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Two years after trespassing charges were filed against him, the court-appointed administrator of a polygamous sect's property trust is firing back at allegations he told an employee to break in and change the locks on sect members' homes.
Bruce Wisan wants a judge to admit the testimony of two locksmiths who say the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members' houses appeared empty and unused in August 2008.
Judge Pro Tem Paul Julien did not immediately rule on the motion during a nearly three-hour hearing held in Moccasin, Ariz. on Thursday.
The locksmiths "contradict the testimony of the two alleged victims in the case concerning the physical appearance of the property and the activities of the alleged victims," wrote Wisan's defense attorney in court documents. The victims said they had only temporarily vacated the houses.
But prosecutor Ken Brendel said the locksmiths' affidavits didn't state Wisan employee Isaac Wyler had gotten a court order or gone through other legally mandated eviction proceedings before changing the locks.
"There is absolutely nothing evidencing any sort of lawful authority ... that allowed him to enter the homes in the manner in which he did," Brendel wrote in court documents.
Wisan and employee Jethro Barlow are facing six misdemeanor counts of solicitation and facilitation of criminal trespassing connected with orders they allegedly gave Wyler.
Wisan's attorneys also moved to have a February bench trial on the charges declared a mistrial. They argued that a record of Wyler's testimony from his 2008 trespassing trial in which he was found guilty should not be admissible because his attorneys weren't on hand to cross-examine.
But Brendel said the testimony was admissible and that Wyler's absence at the February trial, which was attributed to health problems, may have been influenced by his employer.
Wisan was appointed to run the FLDS property trust after the state of Utah took it over in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement. The approximately $110 million trust holds nearly all the homes and land in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, the border towns that are the sect's home base.
Wisan is still the administrator of the trust, but he has been barred from making any changes to it as a legal battle plays out in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals over whether the state takeover violated the U.S. Constitution.