POLSON – A meeting this week between Lake County prosecutor Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson and alleged house thief Brent Arthur Wilson to discuss potential plea agreements didn’t go much differently than Wilson’s several curious court appearances, and that sent the unusual case veering in a new direction Thursday.
Cole-Hodgkinson asked District Court Judge Kim Christopher to continue the omnibus hearing to June 10 so she can prepare additional charges against Wilson, a drifter who stands accused of stealing a vacant $300,000 Polson home by breaking in, changing the locks and filing a slew of head-scratching paperwork with the county clerk and recorder.
“I think the best way to go about resolving this matter is for the state to go ahead and charge the other outstanding offenses,” Cole-Hodgkinson told Christopher, “so that Mr. Wilson has a better understanding, a more concrete understanding, of the state’s case against him, so he can make decisions that are informed.”
Wilson continues to refuse legal representation or legal advice, and is acting as his own attorney. He again tried to appoint the judge in charge of his case as trustee of a trust set up in his name.
His alleged scheme began unraveling late last summer when Polson Realtor Ed McCurdy of Prudential Montana discovered “for sale” signs missing on a log home northwest of Polson he’d been hired to market.
McCurdy’s keys no longer fit the locks, and a piece of paper taped inside a window suggested the home, which was in foreclosure, was now in the possession of someone else.
McCurdy launched his own investigation, and discovered bizarre paperwork had been filed on the home with the county by a Brent Arthur Wilson. It suggested God had transferred title on the home to Wilson, and the legal description of the property location included references to “the third planet from the sun.”
McCurdy also uncovered evidence that Wilson had filed similar paperwork on other area homes, including one Wilson was allegedly living in, and another he had allegedly installed a tenant in.
After Thursday’s court appearance, Cole-Hodgkinson said she would likely charge Wilson in connection with “at least two, and possibly more” home thefts in addition to the three felonies and two misdemeanors he faces on the one house.
“So far we’ve confined everything to the Jette house,” she said, indicating the home McCurdy had listed. “There are other charges, and there are other houses. There will likely be multiple charges per house.”
“It’s very complicated,” Cole-Hodgkinson added, but said it’s important Wilson be able to see and understand all the charges that can, and now will, be brought against him.
For his part, Wilson insisted Thursday that he was appearing in court not as a criminal defendant, but as a beneficiary to a trust established in his name.
Wilson once again remained seated when the “All rise” call went out as Christopher entered the courtroom. But, for the second time in a week, he refrained from calling her “Deborah” – the judge’s given first name – as he had done in earlier court appearances, and again referred to her as “Your Honor” at least once.
Christopher again asked Wilson to accept legal representation from the public defender’s office, again told him she could not rule on any motion that hadn’t been made in writing, and again warned him she would not accept nor perform and fiduciary responsibility in the matter even if he did request it in writing.
“I cannot assume that, I cannot practice law, I can perform only as a judge in this case,” she told him.
“Well,” Wilson announced, “I think it’s apropos then that, for the record, on the record, let the record show that I reiterate the situation from last May 20.”
And this is what he went on to say:
“I, Brent Arthur Wilson the man; on the land, born of spirit, of issue, of messiah on the most high; grantor, trustor, settler of the all capitals B-R-E-N-T A-R-T-H-U-R W-I-L-S-O-N Trust; do appoint and nominate District Court Judge Deborah Kim Christopher as the trustee for the Express Revocable all caps Brent Arthur B-R-E-N-T A-R-T-H-U-R W-I-L-S-O-N Trust, with the following three points of law:”
He went on to talk about trusts.
“The purpose for which a trust may be created is the tangent purpose of the settler in truth. It is the law of the trust,” he said, adding that “Brent Arthur … the man is not defaulted as the trustee for the all capitals B-R-E-N-T …”
Well, you get the picture.
“Do you have any evidence to the contrary, Your Honor?” Wilson asked when he was finished.
“I am a neutral magistrate sitting on this case,” Christopher told him, “so I cannot perform what appears to be the appointment you wish to make, and I will not accept such an appointment because of my responsibility with the court in this matter.”
Cole-Hodgkinson said her meeting with Wilson Wednesday didn’t get far.
“He was the same in conversation as he is in court,” she said. “He asked me several times in what capacity I was addressing him. We never did get around to discussing a possible settlement. He indicated he had more he wanted to do in court.”
In addition to continuing the omnibus hearing to June 10, Christopher said she would set a trial date for July 12.
Wilson is presently charged with three felonies (theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information) and two misdemeanors (criminal mischief and false swearing) in connection with the $300,000 home.
He has already undergone a court-ordered mental health examination at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs that found him competent to stand trial.
After McCurdy turned over what he’d found out about Wilson to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office last summer, detectives picked up the case and a felony warrant was issued for Wilson’s arrest.
Wilson was jailed in California after being pulled over on a traffic stop on Sept. 15. He fought extradition, and was not returned to Lake County until Jan. 31, where he continues to be held in the Lake County Detention Center on $100,000 bond.