Alleged Violation of the Fish and Game Code in Yolo County

YoloCourt-16By Samantha Brill

Scott Eugene George is being tried for an alleged misdemeanor violation of Fish and Game Code section 2006(a), driving a motor vehicle on a public road with a loaded firearm. On the morning of September 13, 2015, around 10am, Mr. George was given a citation for being found driving on County Road 40 in Yolo County with a loaded bolt-action Remington rifle. The defendant has pled not guilty to these charges.

Before getting started with witness testimonies, the prosecution and the defense presented their opening statements. Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Morgan opened for the People by going over the charges for the jury. She then introduced Fish and Game Warden Jesse Keiser as the officer who wrote Mr. George the citation, stating that the gun was in fact found loaded while Mr. George was driving on this county road.

The defense then gave their opening statement by presenting to the court that the scenario that Ms. Morgan put forth was not the full story and that the defense hoped the jury would keep an open mind when listening to this case.

The People then called Warden Jesse Keiser to the stand. Warden Keiser has been in his line of work, patrolling areas of Solano, Yolo and Sacramento counties, for 18 years with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and has taught many firearm instruction courses.

Moving on to talk about what happened that morning, he explained that he saw Mr. George on his ATV (all-terrain vehicle) and assumed the defendant was hunting, based on his attire. He then asked if Mr. George had caught anything that day, then followed with asking if his rifle was loaded. Getting responses of no to both questions, Warden Keiser then continued to search the ATV and firearm.

Demonstrating with his own similar style bolt-action rifle he brought to court, he showed the jury how loading the gun works and explained how he found the rifle that day. He explained that he did in fact find the rifle loaded with live ammunition. He also stated that this type of rifle was completely manual.

Continuing with the narrative of that morning’s events, he explained that when he brought it to the attention of Mr. George that the rifle was loaded, the defendant appeared shocked and concluded that it must have loaded itself. However, in Warden Keiser’s opinion, a rifle like this could not have loaded itself.

The People then moved to show the court pictures taken that day, People’s Exhibit 1,2 and 3, identified as pictures of Mr. George’s ATV, rifle, and the live ammunition found inside the gun. The People rested and turned over the witness to the defense.

The defense began by questioning Warden Keiser about the length of time it took him to write out the report and whether he recorded Mr. George’s statement on the morning of September 13, 2015. Warden Keiser said he wrote down the report about a week later, and Mr. George’s statement was never recorded.

The defense rested, and the People returned for a quick redirect, where they had Warden Keiser determine that he still independently recalled the events of the day in question.

The court then gave the jury time to write down any questions they had for the witness, which were then read and asked by Ms. Morgan. The jury asked if the witness remembered how many rounds were in the rifle’s magazine, and he did not. Warden Keiser also explained that it is not legal to have a loaded magazine in or attached to a vehicle, standing on or being driven on a county road.

The defense then called defendant Scott George to testify. Mr. George has been hunting for 50 years, complying with state regulations by having a hunting license, along with deer tag allowing him to hunt deer and other animals, in California. Mr. George then explained his version of the events that happened that day.

He stated that before getting onto the ATV he emptied the rifle’s chamber and put the round of ammunition into his pants pocket, which he pulled out and showed Warden Keiser once he was asked about the rifle being loaded. He also explained that he was about 20 feet away when the Warden called him over to look at the ammunition Warden Keiser had found in his rifle.

Mr. George then used the rifle in court to demonstrate what he was shown by Warden Keiser that day. He testified that there was a round of ammunition in the rifle, but it is a mystery to him how it got there. However, if it had been too lubricated, the magazine may have let a round into the chamber automatically.

Ms. Morgan cross-examined for the People by asking Mr. George how long he had been using bolt-action rifles in his experience with hunting. He explained that this was the only type of gun he used while hunting his whole adult life, and he had loaded this gun in particular about 1,000 times.

The jury was once again given the opportunity to ask questions, which were read and asked by the defense. The jury’s main question was whether Mr. George’s rifle was functioning properly that day. Mr. George assured the court that he kept that gun in tip-top shape and it was well-lubricated.

After the court dismissed Mr. George, the People recalled Warden Keiser to the stand, to testify that he has never witnessed a bolt-action rifle load automatically because of over-lubrication.

Both sides rested and Warden Keiser was excused. Court was then excused for the day and closing arguments and deliberation will take place in the morning.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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2 Comments

  1. Napoleon Pig IV

    What a ridiculous waste of “the People’s” money. There must be a real shortage of crime in Yolo County these days, and the DA’s office is worried about job security. I can’t think of any other reason for this trial to take place. Oink!

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