Ms. Amanda Marsh and her boyfriend, Chris Geurts, were invited to go on a dig at a vacation house out on Woodland Park Road between Laytonville and Dos Rios.
No, Virginia, Marsh and Geurts are not archeologists; “dig” in the parlance of burglars means a place where fencible goods can be stolen. And when the owner of the vacation house, a Mr. Liskey, came home on September 16th after a four-week absence, he saw two of the diggers, Ms. Marsh and Mr. Geurts, on his porch, and a quantity of his things in the back of a white pickup. Mr. Liskey yelled and honked his horn, causing Marsh and Gertz to run off into the woods.
Sergeant Riboli took the stand during a preliminary hearing last week and said Mr. Liskey told him a four-wheel ATV had been stolen from the property as well, the chain locking it having been cut. The thieves’ pick-up had blue masking tape over the license plate – which Liskey removed, and Liskey also took the keys out of the ignition. The door jamb to the house showed signs of forced entry, and while Liskey was looking over his ransacked home, he heard the pick-up start and roar off, with some of his stuff falling out as the fleeing truck careened up the hill.
The pick-up was later found on a skid road. Marsh and Gertz were also found and detained. A third suspect, Mackenzi Wilson, was also detained, and a fourth, Terry Ellison, got away, and remains at large.
It was Mr. Geurts’s defense that he got black-out drunk and when he came to he was at the burglarized residence and Liskey was yelling at him so he ran away.
Geurts’s lawyer, Al Kubanis, tried to establish whether Geurts smelled of alcohol, but the arresting officer, Deputy Anderson, said no, he seemed sober and cooperative, and though he had to be transported to Howard Memorial for an existing medical condition, Guertz was so well behaved that he didn’t need to be handcuffed. Deputy Anderson said he knew what the medical condition was, but didn’t know whether he should mention it. Judge Richard Henderson (recently retired, but back for this case), who was filling in for Judge John Behnke, told Deputy Anderson, “Let’s not go any further.”
Deputy Jeremy Mason was called, and he also said Geurts seemed sober, though he was sweating from the exertion of running through the steep woodland surrounding the “dig.”
Kubanis: “Would you characterize my client [Geurts] as being overweight?”
Kubanis: “In excess of 300 pounds?”
Mason: “You took the words right out of my mouth.”
Kubanis: “Did he say he was black-out drunk?”
Mason: “What he said was he got drunk and passed out and woke up at the residence.”
Kubanis: “How long were you in his presence?”
Mason: “Approximately an hour.”
Kubanis: “Did you smell alcohol on his breath?”
Kubanis: “Was there any discussion about when he arrived?”
Mason: “His statement was that he awoke with someone yelling at him and that he’d been intoxicated prior to that.”
Kubanis: “Did you go into the house?”
Mason: “I did.”
Kubanis: “Did you observe any bottles of liquor?”
Mason: “The place had been ransacked and there were bottles of alcohol, none empty.”
Kubanis: “Did my client indicate to you when he first heard someone yell at him?”
Mason: “At first he said it was while he was in the vehicle, but later he said it was when he was on the porch; and when I asked him about inconsistencies in his story, he said he didn’t want to incriminate anyone else.”
Kubanis: “What did he say about the items in the white truck?”
Mason: “He denied taking anything.”
Douglas Rhoades was Ms. Marsh’s lawyer, and Rhoades asked whether Marsh had agreed to talk to Deputy Mason, and he said she had.
Rhoades: “She told you she’d been ‘invited’ to go on a ‘dig’?”
Mason: “That’s correct.”
Rhoades: “Did you ask her what she understood ‘dig’ to mean?”
Mason: “I did and she didn’t answer.”
Rhoades: “Didn’t she say she didn’t know what it meant?”
Mason: “She didn’t say she didn’t know, she just hemmed and hawed.”
Rhoades: “So she was unable to tell you …did you ask her if she thought it meant the place was to be burglarized?”
Mason: “She said no.”
Rhoades: “Nothing further.”
Henderson: “Any affirmative evidence for the defense?
Henderson: “Any argument?”
Rhoades: “There’s not one shred of evidence placing Ms. Marsh inside the residence. She has given a consistent story – that she didn’t know why they were there – and I’ll submit it on that.”
Kubanis: “Submitted, your honor.”
Henderson: “I think there’s ample evidence that a burglary was committed and that the two defendants were responsible, and they will be held to answer.”
Corporal Mason said that he’d gone to Ellison’s residence to arrest him but that he had escaped – Mason was unable to set his K-9 on Ellison because of the other people in the area, and Ellison was able to get away, but apparently his bail had been revoked and Ellison was “in the wind” to use the courthouse euphemism.