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POLSON - It appears part of the legal strategy alleged house thief Brent Arthur Wilson plans to employ includes trying to get District Court Judge Kim Christopher to accept his appointment of her as trustee and himself as beneficiary to a trust set up in the defendant's name.

He perhaps shouldn't hold his breath.

Wilson, recently declared mentally competent to stand trial for the three felonies and two misdemeanors for which he is accused in the unusual case, remained seated when the "All rise" call went out as Christopher entered her courtroom at the Lake County Courthouse Thursday morning.

But he did address her as "Your Honor" for the first time - and never solely by her given first name, Deborah, as he had done several times in previous court appearances - at one point.

"Good morning," Wilson, who is representing himself, said as the omnibus hearing began. "For the record, on the record, let the record show that I, Brent Arthur Wilson the man, do hereby appoint and nominate Deborah Kim Christopher ..."

Wilson went on to say he was establishing the BRENT ARTHUR WILSON - "All caps," he repeatedly told the court reporter, spelling it out letter by letter each time he mentioned it - Express Revocable Trust.

Christopher told Wilson she would not rule on any request unless it was made in writing and the state had an opportunity to respond to it.

"You must reduce your motions to writing," the judge said, but later added that "I will not accept fiduciary responsibility" in the case.

"I am a neutral party," she explained to Wilson.

The judge again strongly urged Wilson to let her appoint a public defender if he could not afford an attorney himself, or at least name one on a stand-by basis who could offer Wilson legal advice even if he remains as his own attorney.

"I remain seriously concerned about you representing yourself," Christopher said, running through a list of scenarios - from jury selection to what constitutes admissible evidence - where she said Wilson would find himself at a serious disadvantage unless he's been trained in the law.

"In what capacity are you addressing me?" Wilson asked.

"As a defendant in a criminal case," Christopher answered.

Wilson again declined legal help.

*******

Wilson was freshly back in the Lake County Detention Center from a stay in the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs, where he underwent a court-ordered mental health evaluation.

Assistant Lake County Attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson told Christopher she had not yet had time to meet with Wilson to discuss potential plea bargain options, and asked that the omnibus hearing be postponed for a week, which was done.

Before it got to that, though, Wilson asked Christopher if she wanted him to file some specific Internal Revenue Service forms, wondered how he was supposed to put motions in writing "operating out of a confined jail cell," and asked the judge, "Are you going to settle and close this case?"

Wilson is charged with theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information, all felonies.

The charges arise from an investigation conducted by Polson Realtor Ed McCurdy, who found "for sale" signs missing, locks changed and bizarre-looking paperwork filed with the Lake County Clerk and Recorder's Office on a $300,000 Polson area-home in foreclosure he had been hired to market.

McCurdy's investigation turned up similar paperwork filed on a different home Wilson was allegedly living in, and yet another he was allegedly collecting rent on. Wilson has not been charged with anything in those cases; authorities have said the investigation into those properties continues.

The case bears some similarities to another in Lolo, where Jackiya D. Ford has been accused in Missoula County of moving into and changing the locks on a home she had looked at that was for sale.

Wilson's omnibus hearing was continued to May 27 at 9 a.m.

 

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