Albion Monitor /News
The Prosecution Closes

The D.A.'s Lone Surprise

by Nicholas Wilson

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

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UKIAH, CA -- Although the prosecutor's case against "Bear" Lincoln has been undistinguished, with no proof Bear Lincoln fired the shot which killed Deputy Bob Davis, Deputy District Attorney Aaron Williams startled the courtroom Monday, August 18, when he told Judge John J. Golden that he expected to rest his case the following day. Due to a delay in the trial caused by a sick juror, that is now expected to happen Monday, August 25.

Defense attorney J. Tony Serra said he was shocked that the prosecutor would rest his case after calling only 19 witnesses from a list of 135 that he had supplied the defense. There have effectively been only three weeks of testimony due to numerous delays.

Serra also said he now expects to greatly shorten and simplify the defense case, and estimated he would need only two weeks.

As of this writing it appears the prosecution will rest late Monday, the defense will present a motion to acquit on Tuesday, and begin putting on its witnesses the following day. Though the trial has long been estimated to last for four months or longer, it will probably be done in under two months.

The reason for the greatly abbreviated prosecution case is a matter of great speculation. But due to the blanket gag order imposed by Judge John J. Golden, neither Williams nor defense counsel can respond to questions about the case.

It is confirmed that Williams has resigned his job with the D.A.'s office effective with the end of the trial. His new job will be in the tropical Marianas Islands with the Attorney General's office of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific. Thus one speculation is that he is eager to complete the difficult trial and zoom to his new position in tropical paradise.

Another speculation is that the prosecution case is weak, and Williams has discovered he's no match for the likes of Tony Serra; thus Williams is quitting the case early, like a poker player with a bad hand deciding to fold.

Possible, too, is that Williams is so confident he has proved his case that he is halting further testimony for that reason.

Finally there is the wild rumor that there is a plot to kill Bear Lincoln in a phony escape attempt, as alleged by Lincoln in a letter to the editor last month, and that the trial is going so poorly for the prosecution that they have decided to scuttle the trial and carry out "Plan B."

Such is the range of speculation possible when the press and public cannot ask the principals why the trial is being so abruptly and unexpectedly truncated.

The defense served notice last week that it will appeal Judge Golden's gag order on constitutional grounds to the federal courts.

Sgt. Thomas Allman first on scene
Williams' most important witness following Deputy Miller was Mendocino Sheriff's Sgt. Thomas Allman, one of the first two officers to arrive at the ridge crest on Little Valley Road after Deputy Davis was shot. His voice choking in sobs as he described finding the officer dying with a massive head wound, Allman testified that little attention was given to the body of Leonard "Acorn" Peters lying in the road. Allman twice passed Peters and assumed he was dead, noting his fixed gaze and bullet wound on his face.

Until Bear Lincoln's mother, Lucille, drove to the scene thirty minutes later and said Acorn's name, Allman had assumed that the slain man was Acorn's brother, Arylis Peters, the suspect wanted for a murder earlier that day. In a previous hearing, Allman testified that he assumed it was Arylis because that's who Miller and Davis were looking for, and his confidence in them was such that if that's who they were after, that's who they would have got.

Although Arylis and Acorn looked quite different, with over 50 pounds weight difference between them, Allman said he could recognize the Peters brothers by family resemblance only, but didn't know them by individual names. He said "Mr. Peters works as a form of address" when he needs to speak to one of them. Such apparent insensitivity brought up memories of last year, when there was a brief scandal after Allman was reportedly heard making racist statements to other deputies in the courthouse hallway. Allman allegedly said the new bridge at the beginning of the road to Covelo should be named the Deputy Bob Davis Memorial Bridge "so every time those fucking Indians drive over it they'll be reminded."

Click to read Allman's testimony "11-99 on the Hill"

After a tedious presentation of physical evidence and expert testimony -- which the Monitor will summarize shortly -- Bear Lincoln's 61 year-old mother took the stand.

Bear Lincoln's mother takes the stand
Lucille Lincoln told her story of that fateful night, starting with a death threat by Neil Britton, son of the man murdered hours before. She remembered that threat when her granddaughter woke her around 10 PM because of nearby gunfire. As she hurried family members into her truck to flee, her son Bear appeared out of the night. He told her that he and Leonard Peters had been ambushed on the hill and "they shot Leonard for no reason" right in front of him. Bear warned her to leave because "they'll kill all you guys."

Only a short distance she drove before finding the road blocked by the body of Peters. Suddenly voices from both sides of the road began yelling at her: "Turn your fucking lights off; get your fucking hands up or we'll blow your fucking heads off." Only then she knew that it was police at the scene and not the Brittons seeking revenge.

Mrs. Lincoln detailed further profanity and rough treatment at the hands of the police. She was told to walk faster, and when she protested that she was crippled, CHP Officer Clarence Holmes said, "Fuck the cripple," and painfully shoved her to the wet ground and handcuffed her.

Click to read Lucille Lincoln Remembers

The tearful reaction of a female juror to this testimony was cited by the prosecution in an unsuccessful effort to remove the juror.

Judge again rebuked a crestfallen D.A.
Using as evidence a sworn declaration by Sheriff's Correctional Transportation Officer Nalini Gupta, the prosecutor filed a motion accusing the juror of being "teary eyed" during part of the defense opening statement, and showing other signs of empathy with Lincoln's defense.

Defense attorney Philip DeJong attacked the prosecutor's motives. Williams, he said, was suggesting "for the court to go on a fishing expedition," hoping to find a reason to eliminate the juror. Referring to alleged jury tampering by another transportation officer, Brandon VanCamp, which is still under investigation, DeJong said, "In my view this is nothing more than an attempt to tamper with the jury yet again."

Click to read Prosecutor Fails to Unseat Juror

Judge Golden didn't buy the prosecutor's argument. He questioned the deputy's competence to make such a judgment, pointing out that he himself would be unwilling to do that.

He again rebuked a crestfallen Williams by pointing out that the usual way to deal with such a matter was in the judge's chambers, out of the public view, instead of filing a motion placed in the public file where it was discovered by this reporter.

Next week: the prosecution case closes, the defense case opens, and testimony by Bear Lincoln has been promised.

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Albion Monitor August 24, 1997 (

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