Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's note: This is a summary of statements made by Deputy District Attorney Aaron Williams on July 29. Some direct quotes are used, but sections are frequently paraphrased. All assertions in this article were made by the prosecutor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Nicholas Wilson or the Albion Monitor.]

The Prosecutor Rebuked

by Nicholas Wilson

on "Bear" Lincoln Case


UKIAH, CA -- Prosecutor Aaron Williams began his murder case against Bear Lincoln immediately following opening statements on July 29, calling to the stand 21-year-old Stephanie Britton, who spoke almost inaudibly about an altercation at Covelo's only gas station earlier that day.

She was talking with her older brother Neil Britton when Leonard "Acorn" Peters and "Bear" Lincoln drove up, and Peters wanted to fight Neil. Lincoln and Peters wanted Neil to drop charges against Peters' teenage son Byron stemming from a previous incident. Peters was belligerent and Neil hit him. Lincoln threatened Neil, saying "If you press charges you're going down and your father too." Lincoln invited Neil to fight him. Stephanie, a teenager at the time, said she warned Neil not to fight Lincoln because she thought Bear had a gun in his waistband. Lincoln and Peters left after arguing with Neil about 20 minutes. After that she went to warn her parents that Neil was in danger from the two men, and she thought Lincoln was armed. A short time later she was at the high school when Acorn's older brother Arylis Peters shot her father Gene Britton dead in the parking lot. Judge John Golden sustained several defense objections as to the relevance of this testimony, since neither Bear Lincoln nor Acorn Peters had any involvement in the Britton shooting.

The second witness was Gene Britton's widow Claudette Britton, who confirmed her daughter's warning and told about the later gas station scene where Acorn's brother Arylis Peters and Les and Catherine Lincoln had menaced her and her husband. The trio had then followed the Brittons to the high school where Arylis shot Gene Britton. About 10 minutes after her husband had been killed, she saw Bear Lincoln ride past the shooting scene, and "he was looking at us and laughing like it was a joke."

The third and final witness of day one was Sheriff's Sgt. Thomas Allman, the first deputy to arrive at the Britton shooting scene. Allman testified in an assertive voice, saying Stephanie Britton ran up to him and said, "My father's been shot." Allman answered questions about the details of the Britton slaying. Defense co-counsel Phil DeJong objected on the basis of relevancy of this testimony to the charges against Lincoln, and the judge sustained it.

After the jury was sent home for the day, Serra moved to strike the entire testimony of the first three witnesses from the record. Judge Golden said he was inclined to grant the motion, since the prosecutor had failed to establish by evidence that there was any crime Lincoln was accused of, so there was no foundation for the challenged testimony.

Williams argued, "Mr. Lincoln wrote that he was ambushed, so I need to show that the officers were there to do their duty."

[Apparently he misconstrued Lincoln's statement as a claim that the deputies were there for no other reason than to ambush him.]

Williams argued that Lincoln had threatened the Brittons and was prepared to shoot them when he and Peters walked up the road, so that the challenged testimony was relevant to premeditation.

Serra argued that Williams was "trying to prejudice the jury by trying to show that the Lincolns and Peters are bad people, and do some kind of guilt by association."

To the apparent dismay of Williams, Judge Golden said if the prosecutor anticipated later evidence would provide foundation for the challenged testimony, he should have presented it first.

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Albion Monitor August 14, 1997 (

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