Obiter Dicta

He Sawed a Solution

When Joan Miller went to work one day in November, her property was sporting a nearly new stockade fence. When she got home, it wasn’t.

The Bay City, Mich., woman spent nearly $3,000 to install the fence, only to have her neighbor, Terry Thorne, claim that it was 7 inches over their common property line.

Thorne, who rents from his mother the property adjoining Miller’s, reportedly consulted a lawyer and said he was advised that if the fence was on his mother’s property, he could do whatever he wanted with it.

According to published reports, Thorne took a chain saw and cut the posts anchoring every section of fence that he said encroached on his mother’s property. Thorne then neatly stacked the sections of fence in Miller’s backyard.

Miller notified police, who forwarded details of the incident to the Bay County prosecutor’s office.

Thorne was unavailable for comment. Miller says she will file a lawsuit against Thorne “if I cannot get justice through my public attorney,” and she was quoted as saying she wanted Thorne charged with trespassing and malicious destruction of property. “I cannot understand why he did that,” she says. “Just because your mother tells you to go cut down your neighbor’s fence does not mean you do it.”


Judge Gets Jump on Fleet-Footed Felon Who Dashed for Door during Pause in Proceedings

Judge Robert Wilters of the 28th Judicial Circuit of the State of Alabama used to run for exercise.

It paid off.

In October, while Wilters, a former FBI agent, was giving out candy to jurors after a lunch break, a defendant from another courtroom managed to free himself from a 50,000-volt stun belt, shove a court officer and flee from a holding cell. He ran past the judge and headed down the hall.

“He’s an inmate!” someone yelled, and Wilters, 50, gave chase.

The defendant, Timothy O. Evans, was in the third day of his trial for rape and burglary. He ran down a stairwell and out the door with Wilters in hot pursuit. Evans looked back to check the progress of his pursuer, and when he turned forward again—clang!—he crashed face-first into a handicapped-parking sign.

“He ran into [the sign] and staggered,” Wilters says. “I was 6 to 8 feet from him when he turned around. I … told him to get down on the ground.”

Wilters adds, “He had a nice knot on his forehead.”

Evans was apprehended and returned to his trial, where he was convicted on both charges.

Chief Deputy Larry Milstid of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office says security procedures are being reviewed in light of the escape attempt.

Judge Wilters says chasing Evans was the right thing to do, but not everyone agrees with him.

“When I got home, my wife was not happy with me,” he says. “She made me promise not to do it again.”


Stories by The Bay City Times and Mobile Register; research by Wendell LaGrand

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