Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's note: This is a summary of testimony by defense witnesses that was given on August 28 and September 2nd, 1997. Presentation in the Monitor was delayed in order to provide the most prompt and comprehensive coverage of Bear Lincoln's testimony and cross examination.

Some direct quotes are used, but sections are frequently paraphrased. Assertions of fact in this article were made by the questioner or witness and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Nicholas Wilson or the Albion Monitor.]

The Trail of Blood Detailed

by Nicholas Wilson

California Dept. of Justice criminalist Joyce Pardo presents DNA evidence to the jury during the murder trial of "Bear" Lincoln, Sept. 2, 1997.

Pardo's findings link slain deputy "Bob" Davis to a trail of blood spots suggesting Davis traveled from the shooting scene almost to Lincoln's gate and back, which cannot be explained in the scenario told by surviving deputy Dennis Miller.

Pictured, left to right: Judge John J. Golden, Def. atty. J. Tony Serra, Def. atty. Diana Samuelson, defendant Bear Lincoln, (standing) Joyce Pardo, Def. atty. Philip DeJong.

Courtroom art © 1997 Paulette Frankl, Bolinas CA

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

report from the courtroom

UKIAH, CA -- Mendocino County deputy sheriff Mark Vanoni was the one who, the day after the shootings, found a trail of blood spots leading down Little Valley Road. The defense called him to the witness stand August 28.

Vanoni was assigned to the security detail at the hilltop crime scene the day after the shootings. A Humboldt County deputy pointed out to Vanoni what appeared to be a blood spot about 15 yards down the hill from the red pickup. On looking around, Vanoni found more blood drops, a .223 casing, and a bullet strike on a tree 10 ft. from that.

He radioed Detective Roy Gourley about his findings immediately. Gourley asked him to continue following the blood drops and make note of the other items to show Detective Paul Lozada. He followed a trail of blood drops down the road, and called for a dog to assist. The blood drops were spots darker than the surrounding soil; they were dry, soaked into the soil, and between half and three-quarters of an inch in diameter. The spacing between them was 15-20 ft. at start of trail, and the spacing was regular within plus or minus about five ft.

The blood drops were down the middle of the road where it was straight, but veered to the inside of turns, suggesting a runner cutting corners. In most areas the drops were between where tire tracks would run. Vanoni didn't count the blood drops, and couldn't estimate the number, but probably it was more than 20. Approximate distance from the first drop to the last one near the gate to the Lincoln compound was, guessing, a half-mile. (It would later be measured at one-fifth mile.) The shape of the blood drops varied from round to oblong; some had speckling around one side.

Under brief cross-examination by Williams, Vanoni said the weather was cloudy, cold, drizzling intermittently and "trying to snow." He was there until close to 9 PM. By the time he saw the blood drops, a number of vehicles had driven through to Little Valley. He suspected the spots were blood, but didn't know that for sure. He had been on scene for many hours before the spots were pointed out by a Humboldt County officer.

In a very short redirect examination, DeJong then asked if, when he called Gourley, he also reported the shell casing and bullet-struck tree. Yes, said Vanoni, and there were also the Humboldt Deputy who spotted the blood and two other Humboldt deputies who saw it. When some Ukiah officers arrived, Vanoni showed them the blood trail and advised them to avoid driving over it.

After the Labor Day holiday weekend on Tuesday Sept. 2, the morning session was closed to the public, the media, and the jury. When the jury came in at the start of the afternoon session, Judge Golden informed them it had been stipulated that Leonard Peters' rifle was not fired the evening of the shootings. He explained that therefore they are required by law to accept that fact as conclusively proven.

Blood DNA Expert Joyce Pardo
A key defense witness came next. Under questioning by Phil DeJong, Joyce Pardo said she was employed as a criminalist by the California Department of Justice crime lab at Berkeley. She is a full time DNA analyst. In June 1996 she was asked to analyze some blood and soil samples for DNA content, and then to compare them.

Blood samples came from Bear Lincoln, Leonard Peters, Arylis Peters, deputy Bob Davis, and deputy Dennis Miller. She was able to eliminate four of the five as contributing to the soil blood sample.

She tested two genetic markers (gene forms called alleles) within the DNA of the samples. She was able to rule out everyone but Bob Davis as possible contributors to the soil blood sample.

A frequency of occurrence database for the same two blood markers in the general population indicates that for Caucasians this combination would be found in 1 out of approximately 690 persons. For Hispanics it would be approximately 1 out of 1100 persons. For African Americans approximately 1 out of 1600. For Native Americans she looked in databases of several different tribal groups in the U.S. and Canada. The type found in the first marker in the soil blood spot is "fairly rare" in Native Americans. Ms. Pardo was excused without any cross-examination.

"Earwitness" Dennis Tillotson
Phil DeJong called Dennis Tillotson, who lives about 100 yd. from Henderson Lane and Little Valley Road.

That night between 9:30 and 10:30 he heard on his scanner a call for an ambulance to go to the end of Henderson Lane and stand by. He looked out the front door to try to see where the ambulance was going. He heard about 6-8 gunshots coming from behind him, and he thought it was coming from the housing area. He went to his back door. Some neighbors came over to hear what was on the scanner. He heard a couple more shots. Then there was sustained automatic fire, intermittent pops from a handgun, then what sounded like a larger caliber than .223 rifle, and there were 3 shotgun blasts. Shotguns sound totally different from a rifle, and he knows the difference; he has been around guns all his life, hunting, and shooting. He knows the different sounds they make.

The first volley of fire was over quickly, in a matter of no more than five seconds. The automatic fire came right after for 30 seconds or so. He estimated over 200 shots. He didn't find out until next day what had happened. He and the neighbors saw some vehicles start up the road. His scanner wasn't very good, and he didn't have it tuned to sheriff calls. He heard only half the ambulance talk.

On cross-examination by Aaron Williams, Tillotson said the first shots sounded like 9mm, but he couldn't swear to it; they didn't sound as loud as a .357 magnum, and it could have been .223 semi-automatic. The first shots he heard were from the front of his house, and the house muffled the sound. His best guess at all the calibers he heard in second round was .223, pistols, heavy rifle (maybe .30-.06), and shotgun.

He heard on the scanner something about the wounded deputy, but just what it was was blocked by a defense hearsay objection

Roy Sawley, ambulance driver
Next, Tony Serra questioned Roy Sawley, a volunteer fireman and ambulance driver. The call that a sheriff had been shot came in at 9:55 PM and he knew where it was; he was raised on Henderson Lane and had driven up Little Valley Road perhaps 6 months before. He knew it is a very narrow dirt road, semi-unmaintained, gullied.

He drove fast with lights and sirens, and the dispatcher radioed that a helicopter was on the way. Two other volunteers were in the ambulance and they talked about possible escapes in case the situation was too unfriendly. He believed someone was wounded because he was told so. He didn't know an Indian was wounded too.

The wind was blowing 10-15 mph from the south; it was clear and dark, starting to get cold. He stopped 75 yd. or so short of the top of the hill. He's confident of the distance because there were at least a couple cars ahead of the CHP vehicle which was backing up, and he stopped in back of it. "CHP officer Holmes got out and yelled to turn off the lights. He was saying we were dumb for having the lights on. We turned them off, but when we opened any door the inside lights came on and Holmes 'came unglued' and was ranting about it being an unsecured location."

A second ambulance pulled up behind his and they put Davis into that one, about 9-10 minutes after he arrived.

Sawley heard gunfire while at the scene. An avid hunter since age 13, he has owned and used a wide variety of guns, and could tell the difference, generally, between the sounds of different weapons.

He heard semi-automatic, small caliber, rapid pistol fire. He heard more shots than one clip would hold. He heard "persons burning through magazines, one after another." He estimates between 100 to 200 rounds. He had a general idea where the gunfire was coming from, south of the intersection at the top of the hill, to the south of where he saw silhouettes earlier. He estimates the shooting came from two or three people, based on the consistency of firing and the different calibers. The firing lasted about ten minutes. He doesn't recall if it was continuous fire or possibly stopped and resumed. Besides Holmes, he doesn't recall seeing any other officers in uniform.

After leaving the hilltop, he saw an estimated 75 vehicles go up Little Valley Road over next 4-5 hours.

He returned there the following day with the ambulance at the request of the sheriff's office. At the summit he saw an orange paint outline on the road. It was then, the next day, that he learned that Acorn Peters was killed at the scene. He saw three officers at the scene; one was reaching up into a tree and another came up to him with a saw. It looked like a carpenter's saw. One officer bent over an oak limb that was about 2" diameter and several feet long.

Cross-examination by Williams produced more information. When he got to the scene he assumed the duty of primary assessment, checking Davis airways, breathing, circulation. Davis had a weak pulse and thready pulse (prolonged rather than solid pulse). Shock causes thready pulse. He had a head wound. He didn't note a hand wound. The head wound was bleeding lightly.

Q: Could you have heard the gunfire for only 30 seconds?
A: No.
Q: Could you have heard only two people firing?
A: No.
Q: Were you concentrating on the gunfire?
A: No.
Asked why not, Sawley said he had a duty to the patient and was "trying to ignore" CHP officer Clarence Holmes, who was quite upset.

He talked with Samantha Burkey. Did he first estimate about 100 rounds? Yes.
Did she suggest it might have been 200 or more? Yes.
He can tell the difference between a shotgun and a pistol or rifle. He didn't hear any shotgun that night. He didn't hear any more firing after he left the hill, and he would have been close enough to hear it if it came from the hilltop.

Samantha Burkey had asked him if 500 rounds could be a reasonable estimate, and he said no.

A few more questions by Serra elicited the following:

His talk with Ms. Burkey took place in his house in September 1996. Q: Could your memory then have been better then than now?
A: Could be.
Q: Did you tell her 3-4 people were shooting?
A: Yes, and that's consistent with my present memory. I told her I heard people "burning through clip after clip." I told her then it was over 100 rounds and 200 was possible.

Regarding the saw, he remembered seeing two men in khaki uniforms, and one was walking towards the tree with saw. He didn't see any actual sawing, but he believed that occurred, and that's what he told Samantha. He had driven on after the guy with the saw was out of his way.

Serra give him a page to read to refresh is memory. His report at the time listed the hand wound, but he doesn't now recall seeing it.

Sgt. Timothy Marsh
Serra questioned Sgt. Timothy Marsh of the Mendocino sheriff's department. In the early hours of April 15 he was at the shooting scene twice, the first time around midnight, then later around 3 AM.

Before he went to the scene, Deputy Allman had told him Leonard Peters tried to shoot two deputies.

It was an hour after his first arrival when he first saw the body of Leonard Peters, but during his later visit, Marsh saw shell casings, about .223 cal., near the rifle on the ground, maybe a foot from Peters' feet. Acorn was lying on his back. The shells were to the right of the rifle about 6-7 ft.. Marsh probably called the shells to the attention of the Sargeant. The shells were there when he left. He wrote a coroner's report, but didn't mention the shells -- it wasn't a crime report.

Weren't you suggesting by your report that the shell casings were from the gun of the decedent that you were told had tried to shoot two deputies? No. He's not sure of the caliber.

Cross-examination by Williams revealed that when Marsh was there the second time, he saw Allman marking the body with orange paint. A photo shows the body of Leonard Peters, but doesn't show any shell casings. They were far enough away that they are not shown in photo. He thinks he saw Allman mark the casings with paint. He wasn't part of the investigation of Davis death.

On redirect questioning by Serra, Marsh said he's not sure if Leonard Peters' body was still there in the road at 4 AM. He took the body with him when he left, but isn't sure of the time.

Q: So you're telling us now that adjacent means 6-7 ft. away?
A: In this case yes.

Serra started to bear down on the witness, but Williams objected, Serra finished, and the witness was excused.

Detective Lozada
The next morning, before the jury had entered the courtroom, DeJong called Paul Lozada back to the stand, this time as a defense witness.

Judge: Shouldn't we wait for the jury? (There was laughter.)

Judge: Well the press would comment that they are often being excluded, why not the jury? (More laughter.)

Once the jury was seated, Lozada took the stand. He agreed an evidence photo he took of the cab area of the patrol vehicle used by Miller and Davis shows an empty shotgun bracket on the dash of the car. Lozada didn't see a shotgun. He saw some shotgun shells in the brush, but they were weathered and apparently had been there for some time. He didn't find any freshly fired shotgun shells.

Where was Leonard Peters' rifle?
DeJong questioned Lt. Tim Kiely of the Mendocino sheriff's dept. In April 1995 he was a detective sergeant. He responded to the Little Valley Rd. shootings, arriving at the scene around 10 PM. He noticed a body in the middle of the roadway. It was not yet identified as Leonard Peters. He saw a rifle at Peters' feet, and believes it was underneath his feet at that time. He was interviewed by Leslie Comrack, and has reviewed the transcript. He said in that interview that the rifle was under the body. He believes now it was at or under his feet.

Aaron Williams pulled out a color photo for a quick cross-exam. Kiely said the photo, taken by deputy Allman, was an accurate depiction of Leonard Peters lying in the road with his rifle.

DeJong then asked Kiely to take the pointer and show how the rifle rests underneath the body. Kiely stated that the photo shows the rifle is not under the body, but his recollection at the time was that it was under the feet.

Williams again cross-examined Kiely, drawing out that in the time he was there he was not always where he could keep an eye on the body, but most of the time he could. He didn't see anyone move the rifle. Neither he nor anyone he saw moved or picked up any shell casings. His first duty was to remove Davis from the scene. After that, his duty was to protect himself and others from possible attack.

Deputy Miller calls detective investigating the shootings
Tony Serra next called Detective Lorenzo Duenas. He was one of three Sonoma County Sheriff's detectives sent to Round Valley to investigate the shootings. Detective Roy Gourley was the case agent.

As part of his duties, Duenas recorded a statement by deputy Dennis Miller in the early morning hours of April 15, 1995, about six or seven hours after the shootings. Then, three days later, on a weekday morning, he recorded a second, telephoned statement from Miller. As best he could recall, Gourley had contacted Miller and asked him to call Duenas, and Miller did so.

The transcript of Miller's second interview, "The reason I called again..." suggests Miller called before, Serra said. Duenas has only a vague memory; he was very busy. Somehow the call was made, and he recorded it. He didn't know where Miller called from, but assumed he was at home. (Miller was at his ex-wife's house.) The only phone number Duenas has on his report for contacting Miller is the sheriff's office.

Miller called Duenas and was taped about 11:55 a.m. But in Duenas' report there's reference to a call at 10:00 a.m. Serra asked Duenas to explain the discrepancy. Duenas said, "I looked at my watch and it was 11:55 so I corrected the 10:00."

Duenas talked with Miller on the phone prior to starting the tape. He estimates they talked 15 min. total, and he taped the middle 5 minutes of that conversation. The call occurred about 11:48.

The question Duenas had for Miller was if he had seen the second man on the ridge when the encounter began.

Serra got Duenas to confirm that Miller's was an incoming call, and it was the only call that came to the witness' office in that time frame. (This contradicted Miller's statement that he was the one called by Duenas, and that the call came "out of the blue.")

Duenas was excused from the witness stand. He was the last witness before Bear Lincoln took the stand the next day.

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Albion Monitor September 21, 1997 (

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