First day of trial for Recapture Canyon protest

by David Boyle, Staff writer
Four San Juan County men facing federal charges in relation to the May 10, 2014 protest ride in Recapture Canyon began a three-day trial this morning in the federal district court in Salt Lake City before Judge Robert Shelby.
The trial of U.S. v. Phil Lyman, Monte Wells, Shane Marian, and Franklin “Trent” Holliday began Tuesday with the selection of 12 jury members to rule on the case.
The four men are all charged with two federal misdemeanors, the first a conspiracy to operate off-road vehicle on public lands closed to off-road vehicles, and the second to actually operate the vehicles.
The prosecution opening statement claims that the defendants knowingly and willfully conspired to illegally ride All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) in a restricted area.
The defense opening statements expressed frustration over the “temporary” closure of the trail through Recapture Canyon in 2007.
Over the subsequent seven years, the frustration grew year by year, with no apparent progress on resolving the closure. The defense further argued that the defendants had a right to be in the canyon.
The prosecution provided photographic and video evidence of all four men riding on the closed trail.
In addition, the prosecution called several witnesses to the stand, including Juan Palma, the former Utah State Director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The prosecution plans to close its case tomorrow morning. Once the prosecution rests, the defense will present its case.
During cross-examination, the defense asked if the ride was truly illegal. The defense is expected to expand its case tomorrow.
The jury is expected to reach a verdict by Friday.

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