Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's Note: The following contains a report of the questioning and testimony of Winterhawk Lincoln by prosecution and defense attorneys. Assertions of fact therein are made by the witness, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author or the Monitor.]

The Prosecution Rests

by Nicholas Wilson

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

report from the courtroom

UKIAH, CA -- The prosecution rested its case in the Bear Lincoln murder trial Monday as expected, with prosecutor Aaron Williams calling a final witness, Bear Lincoln's 19 year-old nephew Winterhawk Lincoln, who told what he overheard his uncle say to family members a few hours after the April 14, 1995 slayings of Leonard "Acorn" Peters and Deputy Bob Davis.

Winterhawk, the son of Arylis Peters, heard Bear Lincoln say that someone -- who Bear assumed to be Britton family members seeking revenge for the shooting death of Gene Britton earlier that evening -- had ambushed Lincoln and Peters on Little Valley Road. Bear said he fired back in self-defense after being shot at. He jumped off the road, ran and hid briefly, then fled to his mother's house to warn her of an expected attack on the rest of the family.

Bear did not see who he was shooting at and didn't know if his shots fired in the darkness had hit anyone. He did not know they were cops, and neither saw nor heard any warning, hearing only his friend exclaim, "Oh fuck" before falling dead in a blaze of gunfire.

His uncle did not speak directly with Winterhawk, and the transcript of Winterhawk's closed session testimony showed he was in and out of the room at his aunt Sylvia Duncan's house during his uncle's story, that there were others between him and Bear, that he had not paid close attention and didn't have a clear memory about much of it.

Handcuffed and shackled during the interview
After questioning Winterhawk on the stand, Williams played a tape of an April 21, 1995 interview with Winterhawk by Detective Roy Gourley and others. The defense tried to prevent admission of the tape last week, but failed.

At the time, Winterhawk was questioned in violation of a juvenile court judge's direct verbal orders to both Gourley and prosecutor Aaron Williams forbidding them from questioning the minor without the presence of his attorney.

The two decided to risk defying the order. Their excuse was that they interpreted the order to apply only while Winterhawk was in custody in Mendocino County Juvenile Hall. Now they were in a Sonoma County police station. Their risk was successful; they escaped contempt charges on the technicality that they had not been legally served the order on paper. Lincoln's defense team wanted to keep the statement from being used because of the way it was obtained, and also that police used coercion and psychological torture in getting the statement.

Winterhawk also was not advised of his rights, was handcuffed and shackled during the interview, and had just been shown bloody photos of his older brother recently shot to death in Santa Rosa. After a day-long hearing closed to the public and media last week, Judge John J. Golden ruled that the tape would be allowed in evidence.

Williams attempted to challenge the credibility of Winterhawk's trial testimony by pointing out differences from the taped interview which took place two and a half years earlier. Winterhawk said that during the earlier interview he was telling Gourley not only what he overheard Bear Lincoln say the night of the shootings, but also some of the many things he had heard around Covelo during the following week leading up to the interview. He also said he was trying to tell Gourley whatever he wanted to hear in order to end the ordeal of the forced interrogation. He said he told Gourley things he heard, not things he knew. He was not under oath.

A change in the jury took place Monday after Judge Golden announced that the male juror whose sudden illness resulted in the trial being held up for two and a half days last week has had emergency surgery for appendicitis, and will be unable to continue as a juror. He was excused, and the first alternate juror, a woman, was moved into his seat. The jury now consists of eight women and four men, plus five remaining alternates, all women. Observers consider the change favorable to the defense.

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Albion Monitor August 26, 1997 (

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