Trial nears in assault case; Finman accused of dismantling house with people still inside
4 February 2012
The Coeur d'Alene Press
SANDPOINT - A Bonner County landowner is scheduled to be tried later this month for allegedly tearing down a house around a family whose patriarch is an adherent of the sovereign citizen movement.
Paul Fagerlie Finman is charged with three counts of aggravated assault for using a tractor to demolish a home while three of its occupants were still inside.
The incident occurred at Finman's ranch in Vay in October 2010.
Finman, 56, pleaded not guilty to the felony charges and his five day jury trial is set to begin in 1st District Court on Feb. 28.
Rebecca Campbell and her two children fled the home and were not injured, although they allegedly feared for their lives during the episode.
The defense has maintained Finman was unaware anybody was inside the home when he used the tractor's lift tongs to puncture and tear at the structure. Finman believed the Campbells, who were being evicted from the modest home, had already vacated the premises.
But a magistrate court judge noted that Finman told a deputy he heard voices inside the home after he heaved a rock through a sliding glass door. Judge Barbara Buchanan also found that there were ample indications outside the home - clothes on a clothesline, toys and other belongings - that the home was still being occupied.
Finman's defense attorney, Jeremy Feathers ton, moved to dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence showing that his client meant to harm anyone. District Judge Benjamin Simpson, however, sustained Buchanan's ruling.
Finman has directed sharp criticism at the sheriff and prosecutor's offices, accusing them of unfairly targeting him while shielding Alexander Duncan Campbell, a sovereign citizen who does not acknowledge the legitimacy of federal, state or local government.
Finman contends he had to prod a sheriff's deputy into arresting Alexander Campbell on an active warrant when he arrived at the home after it was destroyed.
Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank have defended their handling of the Finman case and deny any bias in the matter.
Finman has taken his cause to the Bonner County Property Rights Council, the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the Bonner Boundary Priority Planning Project.
"I've had too much personal experience with Bonner County being a good place for extremists to relocate their illegal cash businesses," Finman said in a Thursday email to a Bonner Boundary Priority Planning Project official. "The social and economic impact of these extremists is much more negative for North Idaho than the Aryan Nations ever were."
Project officials politely declined Finman's request to get involved.
A big question orbiting the criminal case is whether Alexander Campbell, who faces arrest on Kootenai and Nez Perce county warrants for failing to appear on motor vehicle violations and weapons possession charges, will show for Finman's trial.
He also did a slide presentation at the local Jonesy's to educate the public about sovereign citizens.
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