Prosecutors say a former Colorado sheriff accused of extortion used his authority like a club, while a defense attorney attacked the prosecution's chief witness as a problem employee.

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is charged with threatening to terminate a $5.3 million contract with the jail's health provider if it did not fire an employee who refused to support then-Undersheriff Paula Presley's candidacy to succeed Maketa.

Maketa is also charged with witness intimidation and official misconduct for allegedly trying to undermine the credibility of three deputies.

Thursday featured opening statements from attorneys and the first witnesses called in the trial, which began Tuesday and was expected to last at least two weeks.