Stalking hearing • Aposhian's lawyer says he's not aggressive; ex's family says daughter doesn't feel safe.
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West Jordan • The 11-year-old daughter of Utah's foremost gun advocate doesn't feel safe anymore.
Ever since Clark Aposhian allegedly threatened his ex-wife and her husband outside their home on Memorial Day, the family's attorney wrote, the little girl has had "obsessions" about her own well-being and frightening fantasies about "being stolen out of her home by her father."
In closing arguments filed in 3rd District Court this week in a civil stalking case against Aposhian, attorney Mitch Olsen wrote that the child's "reasonable fear of bodily injury" and the anxiety Aposhian has caused his ex-wife, Natalie Meyer, is enough to compel a judge to permanently ban him from accessing his arsenal of an estimated 300 weapons. The case was filed by Ronald Meyer, the new husband of Aposhian's ex-wife.
The arguments offer starkly different views of Aposhian and challenge Judge Terry Christiansen to decide whether he poses enough of a threat to merit banning him from the very things that have, for so long, defined him his guns.
Christiansen's decision, which is expected in about a week, will be the first indicator of whether Aposhian is seen as the aggressor in this conflict. His ruling could also influence the two other cases against Aposhian his ex-wife's petition for a protective order in Salt Lake City and a domestic violence case in Holladay.
If the stalking injunction is granted, Aposhian will be barred from interacting with Meyer. But an injunction alone would not be enough to prevent Aposhian from getting his guns back.
In order to suspend Aposhian's gun rights, the Meyers' attorney must convince the court that Aposhian's ex-wife and daughter, who live with Meyer, have reason to fear for their safety.
Aposhian's attorney argued that his client is a peaceful man and a good neighbor. He wrote that Meyer's version of the events on Memorial Day is inconsistent and wrong, and that his client did not instigate any conflict or make any threats.
Last month, Aposhian testified that Meyer had been the aggressor from the first time the two men met while Meyer was in his Jeep and Aposhian was tending to his sprinkler system in front of his home in May 2010.
Meyer described that encounter as Aposhian running at him wearing all black and clutching what he assumed to be a gun behind his back. But Aposhian said Meyer had made a crude gesture at him and yelled without provocation.
Aposhian called the police that day to report the incident.
Aposhian also denied making threats to "end" or "bury" Meyer during the Memorial Day incident after which he was arrested. He maintained that he had been cooperative with police, despite officers who testified to the contrary.
"There is an abundance of unchallenged evidence and testimony that Mr. Aposhian never threatened or stalked Mr. Meyer," wrote Aposhian's attorney, Morgan Philpot. "[Meyer] should not be allowed by this court to hijack the civil stalking injunction process based on conjecture and bald, credibly contradicted assertions."
Philpot cited the testimony of several character witnesses friends and neighbors as proof that his client is not a violent man. He said Meyer's account of events has been inconsistent and changed several times retroactively to make Aposhian out to be the bad guy.
On the Memorial Day, Aposhian is accused of driving a 2.5-ton vehicle onto his ex-wife's driveway and threatening to run over Meyer's car. But Philpot argued Aposhian had made a U-turn on the driveway that day and later received an angry phone call from Meyer accusing him of causing damage. When Aposhian returned to the Meyers' home, Philpot said, it was to survey the alleged damage, not to cause problems.
A witness said, "Mr. Aposhian did not threaten Mr. Meyer in any way but instead kept saying, 'calm down ... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I don't know why you are getting so angry at me,' " he wrote, arguing that there is no legal basis for a stalking injunction to be imposed.
But Olsen, who represented Meyer in this case, argued that a permanent stalking injunction is necessary to protect the Meyers and Aposhian's daughter.
Given Aposhian's line of work and reputation, Olson argued, it was not a leap to assume the man was carrying a gun during all confrontations, whether or not his client actually laid eyes on the weapon.
"A reasonable person would fear for their safety if a stranger, dressed in black, approached their car at 1 a.m. with their hand on a gun," Olsen wrote, detailing several incidents since 2010 in which Aposhian is accused of threatening, following or intimidating Meyer. "A reasonable person would fear for their safety if the 'gun guy' threatened to smash their cars into their house, threatened to 'bury them' and then showed up at their home with a gun and a knife."
Officers who arrested Aposhian discovered the gun and knife in his possession on Memorial Day.
The attorneys' closing arguments in this case were ordered to be made public this week after The Salt Lake Tribune challenged the court's implementation of a 2012 Utah Supreme Court ruling that made court fillings in thousands of family cases private.
Christiansen declared that given Aposhian's status as a public figure, the case is in the public's interest, and since closing arguments are typically made in court hearings that are open to the public, written arguments and rulings in this case should be treated no differently.
The judge's decision will be made open to the public.
In a case related to the Memorial Day confrontations, Aposhian faces misdemeanor counts of criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, domestic violence in the presence of a child and threat of violence. He is scheduled to appear before Judge Augustus Chin in a Holladay courtroom next week.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The petition for an order of protection from Aposhian by his ex-wife has been on hold pending the outcome of this case. A hearing has been set for early next month.