Albion Monitor /News

Weapons Charges Dropped, Gag Order Lifted

by Nicholas Wilson

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

report on this story

UKIAH, CA -- In the interest of justice, Judge John J. Golden dismissed the remaining weapons-related charges against Eugene "Bear" Lincoln on Monday, Sept. 29. The following day Judge Golden also ended the total gag order which has kept most of those involved in the case from speaking to the media.

Monday was Lincoln's first court appearance where he was not in custody, having posted bond six days earlier. Lincoln joined spectators and media walking through the courthouse entrance, which for the first time since the trial began had no obvious security precautions such as the walk-through metal detector and searching of bags and briefcases. Noticeably absent from the courtroom were Sheriff James Tuso and members of the Davis family.

Appearing Monday for "the people" for the first time since the trial began, District Attorney Susan Massini requested the court drop the weapons charges. She said the prosecution feels Lincoln was technically guilty of being a convicted felon with a gun, but there were problems with pursuing the charges. Several times since Lincoln's 1978 conviction officers had taken a gun from him but then returned it.

Besides, she said, the primary reason for charging several of the weapons counts was to beef up his prison sentence, as allowed by law when a firearm is used in a violent crime. Since Lincoln was now acquitted of the murder and attempted murder charges, there were no sentences to enhance, and it didn't make sense to pursue the weapons charges.

Possible manslaughter trial in January
Lincoln last week was acquitted of all murder charges, but if Massini decides to pursue it, would face retrial in January for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. The jury deadlocked on those charges 10-2 in favor of acquittal.

Deputy D.A. Aaron Williams, the prosecutor throughout the case, was present and said he would not be prosecuting the manslaughter charges if the county decides to retry them. He said if Mrs. Massini handles the prosecution she will need 60 days to prepare, but she will be prosecuting another murder case for another month. Judge Golden set a tentative trial date of January 5, 1998, for the retrial, if any. News reports that Williams was resigning his job and taking a new one in the Marianas Islands came as a shock during the middle of the trial.

Judge Golden thanked the jury of eight women and four men for their lengthy and difficult trial and released them from any further duties as jurors. He told them they were now free to talk about the case with anyone they wished. More than one juror has since spoken at length with the Albion Monitor, and will be the subject of our following report.

Jurors said there was never any doubt about acquittal on the murder charges
Several jurors gathered in the courthouse hallway afterwards and eagerly talked about the case with reporters and with Bear Lincoln himself and his attorneys. At one point Serra was seen hugging three women jurors simultaneously. The jurors said there was never any doubt about acquittal on the murder charges. The first formal vote, taken on the morning of the second day of deliberations, was 8-4 in favor of full acquittal on all the charges on the basis of self-defense, with the minority in favor of a manslaughter verdict. The rest of the deliberation time was spent debating the manslaughter charges with the four minority voters, with two changing their votes, resulting in the 10-2 hung jury on those charges.

A remaining question was what to do about the 10th and 11th Special Allegations, which relate to application of the "Three-Strikes" law. The defense said they preferred to let them be decided later, when and if the manslaughter retrial occurs. The judge said that Lincoln was entitled to have the current jury rule on them, but, on advice of counsel, Lincoln waived his right to a jury trial on those allegations and agreed to let the judge decide them based on legal arguments.

At the invitation of District Attorney's investigator Scott Warnock, at least four women jurors, including the foreperson, held an extended group discussion with Massini, which may influence her decision whether to retry the manslaughter charges. Accompanying the jurors in the meeting was defense investigator Samantha Burkey.

A noon rally outside the courthouse was sponsored by Earth First! in solidarity with Bear Lincoln and the Lincoln-Peters Defense Alliance. Lincoln and attorneys Philip DeJong, J. Tony Serra, and Diana Samuelson were all sporting Earth First! T-shirts given them for the occasion. Serra cut a dashing figure with his red necktie worn outside the T-shirt. Several jurors came by after the rally to speak with Serra and shake his hand.

Meanwhile the Lincoln/Peters Defense Alliance announced there will be a "Celebration of Bear's Freedom" gathering Friday, October 3 at 5 p.m. at the Coyote Valley Reservation where Lincoln family members and supporters from the Round Valley Reservation have been camped since the trial began in late July. There will be music and ceremony, and Bear Lincoln will speak. All peaceful people are invited to the gathering at the alcohol and drug free campsite. There will be a pot luck dinner. The Coyote Valley Reservation is located near Highway 101 in Redwood Valley off North State Street. The number for more information is (707) 468-1660.

There is still no ruling from visiting judge Carlos Baker on contempt of court proceedings against Massini for alleged violations of the gag order. Also unresolved are jury tampering allegations against Sheriff's Correctional Officer Brandon VanCamp, supposedly under investigation by the office of California Attorney General Dan Lungren since July.

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Albion Monitor September 16, 1997 (

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