Circuit Judge David L. Mower has dismissed all charges in the vandalism that damaged four bulldozers a year ago, shortly after improvement work began on the 66-mile Burr Trail.
Grant Smith Johnson, 31, remains charged with seven drug counts and will stand trial in Panguitch on Jan. 5, 1989, Mower ruled.Johnson was cleared of the vandalism charges because footprints found on the scene and at his property did not match his shoes and boots, which were seized by officers.
Ronald J. Yengich, one of Johnson's lawyers, said the defense is excited about the dismissal of the vandalism charges. "We feel really great because we did not feel there was any evidence that our client was linked" to the bulldozers' damage.
On the morning of Dec. 4, 1987, soon after bulldozers had started a project on the environmentally controversial dirt road, workers discovered that four of the machines had been sabotaged by material dumped into the engine oil.
The four machines - one each belonging to Garfield County, Lincoln Lyman Construction Co., Rodney Rasmussen Construction Co. and Stratton Brothers Construction Co. - were repaired for just over $57,600.
According to Mower's decision, when the vandalism was discovered, Garfield County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Moore found unusual footprints near where some of the bulldozers were parked. They had "two opposing arrow marks . . . not like the footprints of the men he found working there."
Moore found one just outside the locked gate at the entrance to Deer Creek Ranch, where Johnson lived in a teepee and a small travel trailer. Impressions were made of the footprints.
A search of the tepee and trailer area turned up marijuana, marijuana seeds, LSD, and peyote (mescaline). Footprints outside matched those near the bulldozers.
Robert D. Baldwin, a criminologist employed by the state, reported that "the four plaster shoe impressions exhibited the same class characteristics, but that the characteristics of the shoes and boots actually seized by the officers were different than those of the plaster casts," the judge wrote. ". . . the court concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to support counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Consequently, those charges are dismissed."
They were four counts of vandalism and one of production of a controlled substance.
Remaining charges on which Johnson will be tried are possession of peyote, possession of LSD, two counts of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana with the intent of distributing it.
In Yengich's motion for dismissal, he noted that Moore had followed the footprints to a point where the apparent perpetrator "appeared to have sat on a rock and consumed two beers and smoked two cigarettes. The cans and butts were confiscated and held as evidence."
But Moore testified that as far as he knew - and he was personally acquainted with Johnson - the defendant did not smoke cigarettes.
Also, Yengich wrote, "The testimony merely shows that the caterpillar tractors were inoperable on Dec. 4. There is no testimony which links their failure to run to any person's criminal act.
"Sheriff (Robert) Judd testified that the county had not tested the fuel truck or the source oil for the caterpillars to determine if in fact the source of the problem was an accident or negligence."
If there was vandalism, any evidence "points toward the guilt of some other person, such as one who smokes, and whose shoes match and have the same class characteristics as the casts taken from Long Canyon," Yengich said.