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— The three bikers said they had been coming out to this area off-roading for at least seven years — but did not know that they had crossed from public land to private property when they saw the berm.

All parties — Matt and Justin Walker, Mike Catherine, and Alan Inn — testified that Justin asked his brother, “Are you hit? Are you hit?” Justin, from his perspective a distance away, said he thought Inn was aiming the gun at his brother’s person. Apparently both bullets went into the desert earth, striking neither man nor motorcycle. Both brothers did say that Inn told them to leave — because he was afraid Matt would have a heart attack on his property and sue him.

Inn testified that he felt threatened by the man who refused to get off the motorcycle, saying he could “get kicked into a ditch” by the much larger and younger man on the bike. Inn described his efforts to fence his property. At first he used a simple double strand of barbless wire, but that was swiftly cut everywhere. He moved to wire mesh fencing, which took more effort to defeat. When he progressed to 3/8-inch steel cable on telephone posts every 25 feet, he felt successful. He put up No Trespassing signs about every 150 feet — these were easily torn off but also easily replaced. Inn’s attorney brought in witnesses to confirm this fencing activity.

Deputy Medina never confirmed the conversation in which Inn asked to become a deputy. This important exchange, in which Inn claims he asked the deputy for instruction on how to make a citizen’s arrest, was excluded by the court. The prosecutor successfully made in limine motions to keep this evidence away from the hearing of the jury.

After a lunch break, Inn was cross-examined by deputy district attorney Brenda Daly. The prosecutor offered Inn court’s exhibit number ten, the revolver. He seemed eager to demonstrate the confrontation that happened December 30, 2006.

The large handgun was disabled with a plastic tie threaded through it, and there was a big orange evidence tag, which fluttered awkwardly. Inn took firm grip of the handgun and pointed it toward the prosecutor. There was a tremor through the courtroom — almost every person in the room shifted in his seat at the same time.

On June 17, in closing arguments, Daly reviewed the case. “This case is about the defendant who went crazy and into a violent rage with a gun,” said Daly. She told the jury the self-defense argument was an “excuse.”

“The self-defense claim is something new, that was entered at trial. The right to self-defense may not be contrived. A person does not have the right to self-defense if he provokes a fight with the intent to create an excuse of self-defense.

“The reason we are here is this claim of self-defense,” she said. “His testimony was a bunch of lies.”

Daly described the land. “Everybody rides it. No signs. These are working people obeying the laws,” she said, repeating the testimony of the bikers. “It is a wide-open area. That’s what they have always ridden, and there is nothing marking it.

“He bought a property where everyone rides their motorcycles.” The prosecutor went on, “The property was just dirt; nothing is posing a threat to the sand. He has completely overreacted. Because he goes into rages. Rage plus gun.”

Daly showed a PowerPoint screen that said, “RAGE + GUN = CRIMES.”

“Matt Walker thought a madman with a gun was going to kill him. [Defendant] was in a rage — he wasn’t thinking. This was a crazy man with a gun.”

Daly told the jury that the law does not allow use of deadly force for a misdemeanor arrest, such as trespass.

She told the jury that Inn was guilty of assault with a firearm because he had threatened the bikers. Daly said that by pointing the gun at the bikers and declaring, “I’m going to kill you,” Inn met the definition of assault, stated in California Penal Code, section 240: “An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

Daly took court’s exhibit number ten out of its box and waved it around during her arguments. The attorney showed the revolver to the jury several times.

In his closing arguments, Inn’s attorney, David Thompson, said that Matt Walker was “a mountain of a man” who would not respond to the landowner’s fair demand to “stop.” Thompson emphasized that a person acting in self-defense is allowed to “stand his ground.” Thompson pointed out that Inn’s two shots at the tire would never have been required if the trespasser had yielded to Inn’s lawful requests.

At 3:45 p.m., the jury returned with its verdict: Guilty on count one, felony assault with a firearm personally used by the defendant on Matt Walker. Inn was also found guilty of an alternate lesser charge of negligent discharge of a firearm.

He was found not guilty of assault on Justin Walker and not guilty of willful discharge of a firearm at an occupied motor vehicle.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 1.

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Comments

qqqqqjim July 23, 2008 @ 6:56 p.m.

As a long-time SD resident, I enjoyed offroading for many years at Ocotillo Wells and have found most offroaders to be extremely responsible people. But it is this type of activity that I don't miss. I now live in the Houston area because of my job. I can't imagine anyone in Texas creating the type of malicious activity, if true, that occurred on Mr. Inn's property.

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1904dunerider July 26, 2008 @ 9:23 a.m.

have u ever even been to ocotillo wells? imo this guy is in the wrong. i mean he bought land right smack in the middle of where people ride. i mean there is a wash that leads right into his land. then because u cant afford to put up a fence your going to dig huge ditchs around your prop right where people ride though. are you trying to kill someone?

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bluenwhitegokart July 26, 2008 @ 4:04 a.m.

Prosecuter Daly is a perfect example of how women have ruined this country; how they have 'pussified' us to the point where no other nation in the entire world has any respect for us. Punks like those bikers are raised by women to feel that they have a perfect right to say and do and go anywhere they damn well please, and if you interfere with them, then you are the bad guy. Women have made it so that you cannot even defend you life, your property, or anyone else's, for fear that it is one of their precious little darlings you might shoot in that defense. And no, I don't hate women. In fact, I absolutely adore women. I simply don't have any illusions that they are all perfect goddesses without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. They are absolutely out of control, but who's going to stop them? Certainly not us pussified American males. The worst part is, they've reshaped us in their own image, and now they despise us for it.

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banjojacko July 27, 2008 @ 9:11 p.m.

There are several issues raised by this story. First: The property owner was in the wrong, because when you buy a piece of undeveloped property in a rural area and some part of it has been used for recreational purposes by the public for over 5 years a public easement exists. That's the law under the California Civil Code, and several centuries of English common law. If a neighbor starts parking his car on the edge of your property, or takes a short cut across your lawn to his back door, or builds a fence several feet into your property, you have to notify them that you are not granting easemment and that right of access and passage is revocable. (You send them a certified letter, or you put up signs to that effect.) If you suddenly build a fence blocking the neighbor's short-cut across your lawn to his house, he can take you to court and ask to have an "Easement by Prescription" attached to your deed, and the court will order you to remove the obstruction. (That's if the neighbor has been using the short-cut for over 5 years, without any objection by you.) In the present case, the property owner had no right to put up obstructions, dig ditches and install fencing, and no trespassing signs, when the public had been using part of the property for decades before he bought it.

However, on the other hand, San Diego juries are notoriously biased in favor of the prosecution. We have 98% conviction rates in jury trials in this county. 90% of the judges are former prosecutors, and favor the prosecution in rulings from the bench. Typically, this is reflected by the Judge limiting the evidence and testimony that the defense can present to the jury. In this instant case the defendant's fate was sealed when the Judge prevented the defense from showing that the Defendant had asked Deputy Medina what he needed to do to make a citizen's arrest. That was a crucial point for the defense. It would have shown that Inn, wasn't acting in a state of rage, but was attempting to make a citizen's arrest and had previously sought information from a law officer, on how to do it properly. So, on the surface it seemed as though Inn had received a fair trial--but the truth is that the system was rigged against him. Even the Jury probably went away feeling good about nailing this "maniac" with a gun--completely clueless to the fact that crucial evidence had been kept from them by the Court.

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Driverz July 28, 2008 @ 11:40 p.m.

I read the article on the convicted felon Mr. Alan Inn who committed a felony of assault with a deadly weapon. This article strikes me as an unfair portrait of off road riders. Mr. Alan Inn’s Wisdon Ministry property is NOT PROPERLY FENCED and IS NOT POSTED as private property. I have visited this property many times from 2005 to 2008.

As a homeowner and landowner, I truly feel sorry for Mr. Alan Inn’s misfortunes. However, his approach on developing the land and his approach on pointing and shooting a gun are all wrong. If you unknowingly crossed a property line, do you deserve to be threatened, assaulted and shot at? I don’t think so.

Mr. Alan Inn basically is taking out his frustrations on motorcyclists who are riding 30 year old established trails. Mr. Alan Inn only fenced one side of the Wisdon Ministries property (the west side). Therefore, everyone traveling East to West became trapped and here Mr. Alan pulled his gun and assaulted them. There were NOT adequate “no Trespassing” signs posted by Alan Inn. Even if he did place 50 signs as he says, the odds of seeing one in a > 1 mile square property are slim. The land is over 1 mile square! It is hilly rocky terrain that only off road motorcycles can access. You can enter Mr. Alan’s property and never know it until you travel one mile and reach the west fence. That is where Mr. Alan Inn pulled his gun and fired shots.

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Driverz July 28, 2008 @ 11:47 p.m.

Let’s look at Mr. Alan Inn’s so called development of these picturesque bad lands in Ocotillo Wells. (San Diego County) If you view the satellite images in 2004 and 2008, you will see that Mr. Alan Inn is heavily grading this property.

1) The article describes Mr. Alan Inn as a developer who wants to build a wellness center and resort in the middle of the desert next to an 80,000+ acre off-road park and surrounded by privately owned property utilized by off roaders. Doesn’t this Wellness and resort story sound fishy? What is Mr. Alan Inn’s property zoned for? a. Who in their right mind would build or visit a wellness resort at this location? It is 110+ degrees in the summer and prone to high winds throughout the year. And, yes it is one of the few official off road parks with 1000’s of riders camping and riding every weekend. That means it is very noisy. Not a good place for a wellness center and resort. b. Why is Mr. Alan Inn’s property owned under the name of Wisdon Ministries? c. If he is a developer, why did he not procure the required permits in January 2005 for …. --Grading (over 200 yards requires a permit) Mr. Alan Inn has moved 10,000’s of yards illegally. He has topped several large hills. He has bulldozed so much that it just makes you wonder how he gets away with it. This is ridiculous. For over two years he and a laborer have used a large Dozer, a Grader, a backhoe, water truck and fuel truck to destroy these picturesque bad lands. You can never restore the damage that has been done by Mr. Alan Inn and Wisdon Ministries. --Well Permit and 5 water tanks (where is the approved permit?) --Construction Trailer (no permit) --Underground burial from the well to five 10,000 gallon water tanks at top of graded hill --B&P’s Environmental Control (nothing) Even after his arrest, Mr. Alan continued to bull doze these picturesque bad lands without any permits or regard for the San Diego County Planning, land use and building requirements. 2) The San Diego County Planning and Building Department have been aware of Alan Inn’s illegal activities. It was officially and properly reported to them in 2005. An official case number exists. Supervisor Horn’s office was even copied. What have they done to stop this activity since it was reported in 2005? It appears, nothing…. 3) In summary, I totally agree with the prosecutor and the jurors. These motorcycle riders are working people obeying the law. They unknowingly entered a trap set by Mr. Alan Inn. In that trap, Mr. Alan Inn assaulted them with a gun. “RAGE WITH A GUN”

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JohnnyVegas Aug. 1, 2008 @ 4:27 p.m.

However, on the other hand, San Diego juries are notoriously biased in favor of the prosecution. We have 98% conviction rates in jury trials in this county.

That is not true-maybe for misdemeanors ONLY, but not an overall blended rate with felonies.

In fact It most likely below 90%.

And the ONLY reason it would even 90% is because the DA won't even file unless her chances of winning are over 95%.

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Rider_and_Owner May 15, 2009 @ 6:07 p.m.

Ahh, another soapbox! Several items: First full disclosure; I ride Ocotillo Wells as well as have land there. Second It is not ten thousand visitors. On a good weekend there are over 200,000 visitors to the OWSVRA! When we were kicked out of AB State park in the 70’s the OWSVRA was too small now the traffic can be downright dangerous. Let’s take back Anza Borrego!

Also, I have also personally chatted with Alan on several occasions. He seemed like a reasonable guy. But, In a golf community there are golf balls, in an off road one there are bikes and buggies. Blocking watercourses, making booby traps (I have encountered), Barbed wire (cattle?), and firing at a vehicle when it poses no threat to you is a recipe for everyone to lose. (Anyone that cannot put a hole in a bike tire at point blank range should NOT be holding a loaded gun).

Aditionally the posting by Banjojacko is not quite correct. But, just because you hold title to land does not mean you get to do whatever you want to do with it. There could be an Implied easement for adjoining landowners, there could be a case for an implied easement for the public on a specific path through or around, but a recreational prescriptive easement that would cover the entire property is not something that is real or possible. Additionally an easement is not recorded on "The Deed" it is "deeded" and recorded once thus many landowners do not know that an easement exists if their title company did not do a proper search or they bought the land with a proper title search.

Easement talk aside there are ways to be a good neighbor and ways to not be one in rural America. There are several parcels that have accommodated the off road traffic by providing routes along or through their property while fencing off the bulk of it. Everyone wins.

Land owners, if you do not have a complete chain of title back to 1850 AND the permission of all parcel owners further than you from a public road DO NOT fence to the edges of your property. (Easement legal action is >$80k a pop.) Everyone except the Lawyer loses…

Also if you are riding through or around someone’s private property show some respect! Those that did not in Riverside County got banned from the county completely! The SVRA and the BLM land is the riding area! Yes that parcel is a great piece of land for riding. How about us off roaders do as the Nature Conservancy does (not the STEALarra club) and buy it and grant a permanent public easement for riding. Everyone wins.

Off roaders, stop whining and get active. Buy some land and spend some of that beer money on a membership to an off road organization.

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SurfPuppy619 May 17, 2009 @ 9:06 a.m.

Additionally an easement is not recorded on "The Deed"

Who told you that lie-easements are recorded on deeds all the time.

Land owners, if you do not have a complete chain of title back to 1850 AND the permission of all parcel owners further than you from a public road DO NOT fence to the edges of your property. (Easement legal action is >$80k a pop.) Everyone except the Lawyer loses…

Another nonsense statement. Any owner of real property has the right to fence off their property.

If someone claims an easment by prescription then THEY have the burden of proof, not the land owner.

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