continued 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.