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Crime Doesn’t Pay; Neither Does Work


Jewel E. Dyer and James A. Norton, both of Willits, have a lot in common. They’re both astute young fellows with enough acumen to see that working for a living doesn’t pay, and they’re both ambitious enough to do something about it.

Mr. Dyer, seeing that his father, only 58, wasn’t likely to die of old age any time soon (no thanks to the damnable health food market in Willits), took up a baseball bat and dashed the old boy’s brains out, thereby hurrying along his inheritance of the family pot pharm.

Mr. Norton got it in his head he’d rather collect his retirement while he was still young enough to fully enjoy it, so he went on a tire slashing spree to convince the Social Security Insurance actuaries that he was eligible without paying into the fund for 45 years, like the rest of us must needs do before we can collect the benefits.

Another thing these guys have in common is repeated trips to see Dr. Kevin Kelly in order to impress upon the good psychologist how crazy they both were. Both their efforts failed. They were both diagnosed as competent to stand trial.

Unable to convince the doctor, they tried to sway the judge.

Mr. Dyer had been to two psychiatrists, Doctors Kelly and Apostle; he came back to court with his lawyer Assistant Public Defender Carly Dolan and commenced to argue with her. APD Dolan told presiding Judge Cindee Mayfield that her client was being uncooperative and argumentative – and Dyer shouted over her that he wanted a Marsden motion (to fire his lawyer). These motions are heard in private, so Judge Mayfield cleared the courtroom, heard Dyer’s complains, and denied the motion. Then she had to order him back to the psychiatrist for another evaluation. So Dyer got his case put over until October 19th; effectively postponing the inevitable.


Mr. Norton had worked with his public defender, Jonathan Opet, all the way up to the plea bargain worked out with Deputy DA Luke Oakley, when he decided to play the crazy card on Judge David Nelson. “Look here old man,” he said to Judge Nelson, you’re supposed to be helping me get my SSI, not taking my guns away – I come in here after slashing a few tires and you tell me you’re going to come to my house and take my – that’s a bunch of shit, old man!”

Bailiffs and correctional officers had converged on the tire slasher by this time and escorted him from the courtroom. Mr. Opet said his client had been perfectly reasonable and sane until the unexpected outburst over the guns – of which, Norton being an ex-con with a prison prior, had already been prohibited from owning.”

“It crossed my mind,” Judge Nelson said, “that it was a ruse on Mr. Norton’s part, but nevertheless, by law, I have to send him back to Dr. Kelly for another evaluation.”

Ruse it was. Back in court on Friday, Norton finished the plea without any more acting lessons and will be sentenced to three years in prison on November 17th. “What about my SSI, judge?”

“I don’t have anything to do with that.”

“Will I be able to get it in prison?”

“You will have to take that up with the inmate services staff, Mr. Norton.”


  1. michael turner October 12, 2016

    Willits man arrested for assault on an officer
    By Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer
    POSTED: 04/25/12, 12:01 AM PDT | 0 COMMENTS
    A Willits man was arrested after allegedly charging a Mendocino County sheriff’s lieutenant with a shovel on Muir Mill Road the morning of April 19.

    That morning James Allen Norton, 31, of Willits, had already allegedly threatened a Good Samaritan with a shovel and then attempted to rob him. The Good Samaritan told police he stopped to help a man in a pickup who appeared to have broken down on the side of Muir Mill Road. As he approached the pickup, a man he later identified to police as Norton, jumped out of the pickup brandishing a shovel, and demanding drugs and money. The Good Samaritan escaped and drove away, calling police on his cell phone.

    Sheriff’s Lt. Kirk Mason responded to the 9-1-1 call. As Mason approached the suspect pickup truck, Norton grabbed the shovel and charged at the lieutenant, according to police reports.

    Mason was able to avoid injury and took Norton into custody. Norton had several rounds of .45 caliber ammo on his person, but deputies did not locate a weapon. As a convicted felon, Norton is not allowed to possess ammunition.

    Deputies subsequently determined the pickup had been reported stolen from Ukiah.

    Norton was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon versus a police officer, possession of stolen property, being a felon in possession of ammunition and attempted armed robbery.

    In 2010 Norton?pleaded guilty to battery and paid a $100 fine after punching and kicking his sister when she refused to give him tobacco. He was on parole at the time after serving a fraction of a two-year sentence with the California Department of Corrections.?

    Norton?has had a series of violent incidents since 2007, leading up to his 2009 plea deal for stealing a vehicle in November 2008. During this incident,?Norton?stole an SUV with a 3-month-old infant in a car seat in the back. A witness recognized?Norton?and immediately called police and an Amber Alert was issued. Law enforcement spotted the vehicle, with?Norton?standing beside it holding the baby, along Blackhawk Trail off Ridgeview Road.?Norton?was taken into custody and the infant was returned to his parents, apparently unharmed by his ordeal.

    In exchange for a guilty plea for stealing the car all other charges were dropped, despite?Norton?being on probation from several convictions at the time of the carjacking, including drunk driving and inflicting corporal injury on a cohabitant for an incident in March 2007.?

    In March 2007, according to police reports,?Norton?had a violent drunken argument at an ex-girlfriend’s home, where he threw a television onto the floor, narrowly missing a 4-year-old boy, struck the ex-girlfriend in the face and then stole her vehicle. He then, according to police reports, rammed it into an occupied CHP patrol car in Calpella.

    Charges involving the ramming incident were dropped in favor of a guilty plea to the other charges.

    In April 2008,?Norton?was also arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance, and subsequently entered a drug diversion program, which included probation.

  2. Professorpat May 21, 2020

    Norton is now facing murder charges in the death of his cellmate at VACAVILLE State Prison.

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