WENATCHEE — Trial was rescheduled this week for Chumstick Valley man accused of firing a gun to intimidate railroad workers, after he showed up for court in his Oregon National Guard uniform.
Trial was to begin Tuesday for James Carl Brown, 44, charged with assault and unlawful imprisonment for allegedly firing rounds from an M4 rifle Oct. 26. Brown allegedly fired the shots to warn a team of four Burlington Northern Santa Fe workers away from the property he rented in the 12000 block of Chumstick Highway.
But Brown, a military veteran and Army National Guard staff sergeant, reported to Chelan County Superior Court in his dress uniform, leading prosecutors to object, saying it was an attempt "to vouch for credibility" before a jury, according to hearing minutes.
Judge Lesley Allan agreed, saying the appearance of the uniform might sway jurors, and ordered Brown not to wear it in future court appearances. She noted he had not worn the uniform in any prior hearings on his case.
Because of the uniform dispute, and Brown's recent move to replace his court-appointed attorney, his trial was delayed until September. He has pleaded not guilty to four charges of second-degree assault and four of unlawful imprisonment, and is free on $10,000 bail.
Sheriff's deputies said the BNSF crew, traveling in a pickup, crossed a private driveway near Brown's rented property about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 26 to access a rail line work site. Brown allegedly confronted the crew minutes later while armed with an M4 rifle, warned them against crossing the private drive, and fired three to five shots into the ground in front of their truck.
The crew said Brown retreated into the dark after the discharge, and they were afraid to attempt to move their truck lest they cross the disputed property. Fellow BNSF workers sent a maintenance car along the rail line to take them from the scene.
Brown later surrendered to a police tactical team after initially refusing to exit his home, deputies said. He was granted permission to travel for National Guard duties, and is only allowed firearms access during National Guard training, according to court records.
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013