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Showing gun lands Avalon man in jail

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE — What started as a seemingly simple land dispute has resulted in jail time for Fredrick Marshal Van Horn of Avalon.

Van Horn, who rejects public defenders and refuses to wear jail clothes, was charged with 'recklessly aggressive conduct' for allegedly placing 'Jimmy Adams in danger of bodily injury by displaying a firearm in a dangerous manner.'

According to Jerry Baker, a friend of Van Horn, no 'dangerous manner' was involved.

'He didn't point that gun at him,' Baker said of Van Horn, who made his first court appearance in a sheet. 'He just showed it to him along with his paperwork.'

Baker said Adams was in the process of mowing property Van Horn had leased for winter grazing for his livestock.

'Mr. Van Horn asked him to stop, and (Adams) tried to run him over with the tractor,' said Baker. 'Mr. Van Horn had called 911, but the Sheriff's department didn't come. He went back and called 911 again, and got his paperwork and his pistol. He was just trying to stop (Adams) from mowing the grass that was supposed to feed his animals.'

Van Horn alleges the former owner of the property had leased it to him for winter grazing, with a first right of refusal should the property be sold. The land was subsequently sold to Phillip Services Corporation Avalon (PSC). PSC did not recognize the grazing rights claimed by Van Horn.

Van Horn stood before Judge Bob Carroll in open court on Friday, Nov. 17, refusing even the offer of a chair from a court he believes has no jurisdiction over him. 'You have been noticed that you are trespassing on my case,' Van Horn said repeatedly. 'I am innocent in this matter.'

Van Horn, who teaches what Baker calls, 'Right Way Law, the truth about what's happened in our country,' reasons the court has no jurisdiction in the matter because it is an incorporated Texas Court. A document prepared by Van Horn's son states 'jurisdiction lies at the U.S. Constitutional Court.' Deputies refused to allow the younger Van Horn to give the document to his father at the court, saying he needed to follow proper channels.

Judge Carroll spent over ten minutes trying to convince Van Horn to accept the services of a court-appointed attorney. 'I advised you in this court on Nov. 14 of the dangers of representing yourself,' Carroll said. 'The law requires that I do it again. I have made the services of an attorney available to you. I ask you to reconsider your decision.'

'You have been noticed that you are trespassing on my case,' Van Horn said quietly. 'I object to these proceedings…'

'This past year there were approximately 3,000 misdemeanor criminal cases filed in this court,' Carroll responded. 'You are the only one to raise this point. Why should you be treated differently?'

'I am not a corporate U.S. Citizen,' Van Horn said. 'I am an American.'

'The law requires the State to prove each and every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt,' Carroll said. 'I will instruct the jury to make them do that or find you not guilty. But every time I ask you a simple yes or no question, you won't respond.' The judge gestured toward the court-appointed attorney. 'There is Joe Gallo, ready to help you, to advise you if you need any help.'

Moving on, Carroll stated Van Horn had filed 191 pages of legal papers for purposes of the pre-trial hearing. 'Do you want to bring attention to anything on file at this time?' he asked.

'I have told you, you are trespassing on my case,' Van Horn repeated.

'I ask you a question and you say I am trespassing!' Carroll was exasperated. 'How are we going to get anywhere?'

Van Horn simply repeated his statement.

When asked for comment, Gallo said, 'I could protect his rights. I could try to get him released from jail, or get a not guilty verdict.'

'I have offered him reasonable bail!' said Judge Carroll vehemently. 'He says he will not even pay two cents bail!'

'I cannot advocate in his behalf,' said Gallo. 'I just want to make sure the record shows I advised him that I am here, I desire to speak to him, to help him. I will commit that I will argue any and all arguments that he has, including the trespassing as he states.'

According to Van Horn's supporters, Van Horn believes if he accepts the services of the court appointed attorney, or if he agrees to 'bond out' of jail, he would be submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the court. They also feel officials desire to keep Van Horn incarcerated until certain deadlines have passed in another dispute over property taxes. 'They are trying to take his home,' says Baker. 'Even though case law shows that particular tax has been abolished.'

At Gallo's urging, Carroll issued an order for Dr. James Methner, a psychiatrist, to examine Van Horn prior to jury selection in the case. 'I understand your concern,' Carroll said to Gallo. '(Van Horn) appeared in court in a sheet and would not talk to anyone. In fact he babbled a few unintelligible phrases.'

Supporters say Van Horn had appeared in court in a sheet because he would not wear prison issue clothing and officials would not allow him to wear his own clothing. He was wearing his own clothing at Friday's hearing. 'They're doing everything they can to make him look crazy,' said Baker.

'This is my own motion,' said Gallo, referring to his request for a competency evaluation. 'I cannot make it in behalf of Mr. Van Horn. He would not desire it or know how to make this motion. But it should be completed before jury selection.'

Jury selection is set for Monday, Nov. 27, at 9 a.m. in Judge Carroll's court at the temporary County courthouse next to Office Depot in Waxahachie.

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