Casper area car collector's jury trial uncertain

2013-06-16T11:00:00Z 2013-09-19T18:38:04Z Casper area car collector's jury trial uncertainBy LEAH TODD Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Dana Jones thought his jury trial was a done deal.

The local trucker and car collector pleaded not guilty earlier this year to the two dozen misdemeanor charges that said his assemblage of more than 200 inoperable and unlicensed vehicles violate county zoning ordinances and state statutes.

A Natrona County Circuit Court judge at the time granted Jones a jury trial for the criminal charges, agreeing to hear all 24 at once.

However, at a recent motion hearing, the same judge dismissed most of the citations that carried jail time and with them likely dismissed Jones’ trial by jury.

“This is not a jail matter,” Assistant

District Attorney John Miner said of the remaining citations during the June 7 hearing. “And in neither of them is the state seeking any form of jail, incarceration or probation. ... There’s no reason to wrap monetary penalties only into a jury trial.”

Miner, who represents the state of Wyoming in the case, said Jones’ criminal trial should be suspended until a similar dispute — Jones’ civil lawsuit against the Natrona County Commission — is resolved in a different court in the same building. Jones is suing Natrona County Commission for what he says is excessive enforcement of unlawful zoning codes.

Jones’ counsel, local attorney Harry Bondi, disagreed.

“No way do we want to delay the conclusion of these issues one more day,” Bondi said during the recent hearing.

The state’s motion to suspend the criminal trial and to try Jones’ remaining citations by bench is not final until the court reconvenes, which Bondi said will take place June 20. Though the exact type of trial is still pending, court documents say Jones’ criminal trial will start July 16 and last four days.

Jones argues his assembly of inoperable and unlicensed vehicles is an antique collection, not a junk yard, and he wants the chance to say so in front of a jury in criminal court. He compiled a set of expert witnesses to testify to the historic value of his car collection during what he anticipated would be an upcoming jury trial, according to Circuit Court documents.

“We feel if we had a jury trial we would be heard, and all the evidence would be heard, including the expert witnesses,” Jones said in an interview with the Star-Tribune.

County ordinances permit up to four and Wyoming statutes permit up to three inoperable vehicles on a single property. Between his two Natrona County properties, Jones owns at least 200.

“It’s a lifetime investment,” Jones said. “Other people collect coins, they collect money, they collect dolls, whatever. I collect cars and trucks.”

Reach county reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. ers
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    ers - January 08, 2014 8:10 am
    I left the county because of the is rift with "legal corruption".....look what they did to the Wardwell area!
  2. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - September 23, 2013 6:37 am
    I've never seen this property but who cares who is this really bothering? There collector cars? Personally I wouldn't want them to go to a junkyard or be crunched. There isn't many of these cars left. I'm a car nut for old cars and if it's this guy's property and the law says 25 years and older u can have as many as you want what's the problem? I sure hope he wins his case...
  3. balloon boy
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    balloon boy - June 18, 2013 9:09 pm
    What is the deal to protect the liars in the county commission ? Bill Mcdowell is a liar . he was caught in a bald face lie by Leah Todd herself ? The trib wants to censor the truth to protect Liars and abusers . Ed Opella and Bill McDowell chose to lie to Leah when she asked if Opella was going to fill the new human resources position . they told her " no " in a quote in a past article . The liar commissioner Bill Mcdowell was the vote that gave Ed Opella his job . Further , these are the very commissioners that have made a vendetta to destroy Dana Jones for collecting antique cars . The trib editors choose to protect bullies and abusers to stay in their good graces .
  4. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - June 17, 2013 4:07 pm
    Mo the door swings both ways, i dont care what you put up on your land. windtowers, or the jolly green giant holding a bag of peas. i think the point to this all is singling out of certain people and that is what im against. i have it on good athority our county has left others alone because of good connections to high officials and targeted jones for one person who is personal friends with board members. see where im going with this. its who you know. the fact that jones was cleaning up long before tickets were issued is even more of a signal to me that this was a personal favor. so dont be offended, im as tired as you are about the entire mess but i will stand by the jones till the end, for they helped me clean my property up and took the heat i may have gotten.
  5. Mo
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    Mo - June 17, 2013 1:45 pm
    If zoning goes away the first thing I'm going to do is put up one of those wind turbines you hate so much. Right next to your home.
  6. Mo
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    Mo - June 17, 2013 1:31 pm
    For the record I believe this has gone too far with Mr. Jones and needs to stop. However, people need to understand how it all got started. Like I said previously, if this property had looked like it does today a few years ago this wouldn't have happened. As far as the others go I hope county goes after them too. I for one am tired of this city/county turning into a bigger dump every day because it's their right to live that way.
  7. Mo
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    Mo - June 17, 2013 1:13 pm
    I completely agree WyoJeff. I just have a real hard time figuring out why people need to drag burned up trailer homes into their yard so they can sit there until the landowner dies leaving the problem to others. Thats just one example, there are plenty more.
  8. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - June 17, 2013 11:53 am
    oh by the way, zoning is only for the rich man. zoning devalues your property by limiting its uses, should read something called the 7 lies of zoning. i still wonder if putting zoning on a ballot if everyone would even want it? most of wyoming is not zoned and they are fighting tooth and nail to keep it out of their towns and counties. because its control, pure and simple. ask kc ask rock springs, ask any of the other 20 counties that dont have it. why they dont have it.
  9. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - June 17, 2013 11:50 am
    Mo you seem to know alot about the jones tell me then why in 2004 when the county went after jones and came to the conclusion, that he had no fire hazards, no vermin problems and jones had produced tittles to his vehicles showing they were all over 25 years old. did the county close the file? wait another 6 full years, then go after jones after he moved his cars away from the road and put them into rows and began heavy cleanup did the county ticket him? seems to me if you knew as much as you claim to know you would also know that jones has continued his cleanup for years already, each summer they work on more and more but yet when others are not doing anything for their properites he was targeted? can you explain that?
  10. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - June 17, 2013 10:36 am
    While I don't like old cars all over my neighbors yard, I do think they should have the right to follow what they want also. I don't understand why the Zoning Nuts have to force everyone into their vision of what they want. I understand zoning laws in town. But even then we can't we allow others to follow their passions like the love of old cars and the love of having horses. While I don't want them in my neighborhood. I don't see why we don't have a subdivision for car people and a subdivision for horse people. I don't see why the Zoning Nuts need to worry about land outside of town. Let the people who live out of town do what they want. Unless they have old engine oil dripping from the cars and flowing onto your land, what does it matter? If you don't like looking at it, put up a privacy fence.
  11. Mo
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    Mo - June 17, 2013 9:42 am
    Everyone seems to think these ordinances are in place simply to take away rights. They are not. They are created in an attempt to clean this county up a little. It's unfortunate people like Mr. Jones couldn't have cleaned up their property a little before it had to come to this. Had his property been as clean and organized as it is today we wouldn't be in this situation. Casper has the potential to be a beautiful city but not as long as people keep fighting tooth and nail to live like pigs.
  12. Tess
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    Tess - June 17, 2013 7:50 am
    I fully support Mr. Jones and his property property rights in this action. This used to be America, where freedom reigned and a man could live in peace, especially when not infringing upon the rights of others. Turn your offended eyes elsewhere if seeing these old vehicles bother you. Your right to not see does not trump his right to have.

    Seems the DA, Natrona County and the court system have their priorities all askew. Wasting taxpayer money and time on persecuting this decent citizen should be an affront to everyone.
  13. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - June 17, 2013 7:46 am
    judgeing by the video's i have watched over 50 of them now. It would seem that someone somewhere had a personal axe to grind with jones. The name opella and walcott kept coming up over and over. the things these two have said about jones was pretty apparent they were out to destroy jones finacially with costly litigation. the very first meeting i watched was opella and walcott saying let him take us to court. well after jones tried to work with these clowns for 2 years, and got no results. Jones filed his lawsuit, not for money, not for any other reason then to find out what his rights were in the eyes of tha law. not 2 hours later the county wrote 24 citations for violations that had nothing to do with the 2 years of talks between car folks and the county. The county played the bait and switch on everyone involved. while they kept citizens busy with county laws they combed the books looking for a state law they could sight jones with. junkyard was the best they could do. this will prove an interesting case to say the least, will all the lies come out? will the vandetta be allowed to be played out? Will jones get a jury trial? or will he be again targeted by those in power?
  14. balloon boy
    Report Abuse
    balloon boy - June 17, 2013 7:05 am
    Wyoming state statutes have been misquoted here also . They state that if the vehicles are 25 years or older , you can have as many as you want . County Attorney Bill knight is too stupid to read his own state law . The new county attorney Miner has one intention , and that is to take away the jury trial . Why ? He must not want to fight his own injustice in front of 12 jurors . This is just another abuse of a county resident that is paying for his own lawyers , and demanding a fair shot at justice . Miner wants a biased county judge to decide the outcome of the case . This county judge works in collusion with the prosecutor to destroy any chance of a fair trial .
  15. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - June 17, 2013 6:36 am
    Stand your ground Dana! You got my support.
  16. Sassy
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    Sassy - June 17, 2013 6:19 am
    2 Cents

    Doesn't someone who owns a trucking company also known as a trucker? Doesn't someone who owns and ranch also known as a rancher? Isn't someone who farms is sometimes known as a farmer. Isn't someone who works in a bank, sometimes known as a banker....

    I think you might be just a little sensitive......

  17. sober21
    Report Abuse
    sober21 - June 17, 2013 6:03 am
    It seems that the problem is Knight and not Jones. This county attorney should be dismissed from his job for displaying such childish behavior and supporting personal vendettas.
  18. My 2 Sense
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    My 2 Sense - June 17, 2013 5:23 am
    Leah Todd, I am very disappointed in your "journalism". Jones is not a trucker. He is a respected businessman, who owns a trucking company. Most of his vehicles operate. AND most important, laws were set after his collection of cars. Dana has every right to do what he wants on his land because it is his land. Not to mention, his land isn't "junked" by vehicles. His vehicles are put in rows and his property looks nice. Get it right, Leah. Your biased reporting is disgusting to read.
  19. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - June 17, 2013 4:14 am
    sounds like the state did not have much to go on with the county's newly created ordiance since jones existed long before it was created. we sat in on the hearing, and jones was convicted even before his attorney made an opening statement. judge patchen in the case kept repeating when your found guilty mr jones, you will be fined 10 thousand dollars to be paid in 30 days or go to jail. monatary or jail time does not everyone deserve their day in court with a jury of their peers? I have been to judys youtube sites many times over the years, and i have never seen anything there except open public meetings and work sessions, both which are open to the public to attend, take photos and share if they like. the county attorney seemed to get caught with his pants down on this one, is there not some law against lieing to the judge when your a lawyer? making up lies against a defendant to sway a judge? where is the bar association in this one? good luck jones, from what i saw with the circuit court your going to need the hand of god to get a fair trial.
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