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United States of America v. Donald Twito

January 13, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD TWITO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge U.S. District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Donald Twito's Motion in Limine to Exclude Prior Bad Acts or Convictions (Dkt. 13). The Government has indicated that it intends to introduce evidence of prior contacts between Defendant Donald Twito and United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers Karl Stocker and Travis Tippit to prove motive, intent, and absence of mistake or accident. Fed.R.Evid. 404(b).

BACKGROUND

On August 25, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Defendant Donald Twito charging him with Wilfully Injuring Property of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1361. Trial in this case is set for January 12, 2011, in Pocatello.

At trial, the United States intends to introduce evidence to establish the following facts:

A. The July 25, 2010 Incident

On July 25, 2010, United States Forest Service ("USFS") Law Enforcement Officer Karl Stocker was driving his patrol vehicle, a 2009 Ford F250 white pickup truck, on duty in Lemhi County. He passed a 2-ton truck loaded with wood poles. Stocker observed through his side view mirror a USFS wood permit attached to the load of poles. Stocker turned his duty truck around and turned on his flashing lights. He followed the 2-ton truck about two/tenths of a mile into a lane he knew led to the Twito property. The 2-ton truck stopped before Stocker turned into the lane. Stocker stopped his duty truck about twenty to twenty five feet behind the 2-ton truck and began to call his location into dispatch.

As he was calling his location, Stocker claims he heard the 2-ton truck engine rev. The truck then backed into Stocker's duty truck. According to Stocker, the defendant, Don Twito exited the driver's side of the truck while his brother, Ken Twito, exited the passenger sided of the truck. Both approached Stocker's duty truck and began yelling at Stocker to get off of their private property. Stocker remained in his vehicle and through an open window instructed Don and Ken to get back into their vehicle.

At this point, Stocker backed his vehicle up to gain some distance between himself and the 2-ton truck. Don returned to his truck, drove through a gate at the end of the driveway, and Ken locked the gate behind them. Stocker's truck was disabled.

Stocker called for assistance from Lemhi County Sheriff's Office. Lemhi County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Stokes responded. Stokes and Stocker climbed over the locked gate into the Twito's yard. Don was carrying a gun. Stokes took the gun off Don, unloaded it, and set it on the wood pile.

Stokes interviewed Don and Ken. Stocker recorded this interview. Don claimed he did not run into Stocker. Ken insisted that Stocker ran into him. Don also claims that he was just backing up to get the mail. Don insisted that Stocker "had it in for them" and was "stalking" them. Ken stated that he saw Stocker "come flying by" then turn around and come back. Don and Ken also claimed that Stocker did not have his lights on.

Stocker checked the mail box while he was waiting for Deputy Stokes. He asserts there was no mail in the box. It cost $3016.47 to repair the damage to Stocker's duty truck.

B. Twito's Prior Contacts with Stocker and Tippit

At trial, the Government seeks to introduce evidence -- through the testimony of Stocker, and another Forest Service law enforcement officer, Travis Tippit -- that Don had a number of previous contacts with the Forest Service in the weeks and months prior to the incident. The ...


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