POLSON - Brent Arthur Wilson's chronic courtroom disobedience persisted Thursday when the accused con man again addressed a judge by her first name and was sent back to his jail cell.
For the third straight court proceeding in a row, Wilson, 53, who is charged with stealing a Polson-area home in foreclosure, referred to District Judge Kim Christopher by her given first name of Deborah, refusing to address the judge formally despite numerous reprimands from the court.
"Deborah, you are not God," Wilson said defiantly when Christopher, who goes by her middle name, insisted that he address her as "judge" or "your honor."
Wilson's strange behavior and courtroom antics have recently overshadowed the curious charges for which he's jailed, and his obstinance effectively derailed the case at an arraignment hearing last month, when Christopher ordered a mental health evaluation to determine if Wilson was fit to proceed.
The arraignment was the first time Wilson referred to the judge by her first name, announcing that he neither had, nor wanted, any constitutional rights. That prompted prosecutors to request the mental health assessment, which still hadn't been completed Thursday morning.
Wilson is acting as his own attorney and the court has submitted not guilty pleas on his behalf. He said he would not cooperate with the assessment until he had the opportunity to inspect copies of the evaluating counselor's professional license and malpractice insurance. The evaluation is slated for April 2.
"We have a defendant who does not have an attorney and there are questions about his ability to represent himself," said Deputy Lake County Attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson. "One of the things we need to determine is whether the defendant has a mental health disorder, and, if so, the extent of that disorder and whether it will interfere with his ability to answer to the charges."
Wilson is charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for his alleged attempts to steal a $300,000 Polson-area house in foreclosure, allegedly by breaking into it, changing the locks and filing a slew of oddly-worded documents with the Lake County Clerk and Recorder's Office.
"He literally took possession of my house," said Realtor Ed McCurdy of Prudential Montana Real Estate's Polson office, who unraveled Wilson's alleged scam last summer.
Missing "for sale" signs that McCurdy had placed on a log home he'd been enlisted to market caught his attention in August, and it didn't take long before the real estate agent discovered that his key no longer fit the front door. A sign taped in the window suggested the property was now in the possession of someone else and listed Wilson's telephone number as the contact.
The property had already been foreclosed on and assigned to McCurdy by the federal government, and documents show that Wilson simply transferred ownership of the vacant property to himself.
"At that point, it was my baby. If anything happens to the property it's my responsibility, so I treat it like my own," McCurdy said. "Then this guy comes along and lists his own foreclosure and locks me out of my own house."
Wilson's foreclosure documents included all manner of strange language, including "third planet from the sun" in the legal description of the property's location, "my commission expires: upon my final breath" under an alleged notary signature, and references to the "Creator, Yahweh."
On the front of McCurdy's home, Wilson allegedly hung a sign spelling out "Yahweh" in Hebrew, the realtor said.
"It's like he staked his claim with these goofy signs," McCurdy said.
Lake County authorities say the investigation continues into several other Polson homes on which Wilson allegedly filed similar paperwork, and more charges could be forthcoming. The houses include a home at which Wilson was allegedly living, another on which he was allegedly collecting rent and one he allegedly attempted to use as collateral for a loan from a Missoula finance company.
Wilson remains jailed in the Lake County Detention Center on $100,000 bail. The charges against him include theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information, all felonies.
A status conference in the case is scheduled for next week, although a preliminary report of the mental health evaluation is not expected until April 7.
"The judge appears to be concerned about having someone under these circumstances left to sit in jail," Cole-Hodgkinson said. "It's kind of a safe-and-sorry thing to make sure we have regular status conferences. If he had legal representation the attorney would know when to rattle the bars, but that's not the case here."
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.