After fewer than two hours of deliberation Friday, a Carbon County jury found four Missouri hunters not guilty of trespassing for corner crossing at the Elk Mountain Ranch in 2021.

The three-woman, three-man panel returned the not-guilty verdicts on criminal trespass charges and on an alternative theory of trespassing to hunt.

Phillip Yeomans, Bradly Cape, John Slowensky and Zachary Smith hugged one another and their attorneys after Carbon County Circuit Court Judge Susan Stipe read the verdicts at about 2:30 p.m. It was the third day of the trial. Jurors would not comment as they left the temporary courthouse in Rawlins.

Corner crossing involves stepping from one piece of public land to another at the common corner with two pieces of private property, all arranged in a checkerboard pattern of alternating ownership. The hunters’ attorneys said Carbon County Prosecutor Ashley Mayfield Davis never produced evidence the four had touched the private land of Fred Eshelman’s Elk Mountain Ranch.

“He believed the whole mountain was his and that no one but [he] was allowed to be there … like a king.”

defense attorney Ryan Semerad on ranch owner Fred Eshelman

But Mayfield Davis said stepping on private property was not necessary to convict the four. Property ownership involves three dimensions, she said, using a block of Duplo LEGO style bricks in two colors to illustrate the concept of checkerboard ownership in three-dimensions.

“The law is you own the airspace,” she told the jury in her closing arguments. “Land ownership is not just the dirt, it’s the airspace above.

“You don’t have to touch that land,” to be convicted of trespass, she said.

The men must have violated the airspace above Eshelman’s ranch when they crossed the infinitely small point at the corner, she said.

“A body is bigger than that point,” she said. “All of their bodies were over private land…. When you break that plane [above a property boundary line] you are entering their property.”

Along with property ownership comes the right to exclude others from that property, she said. She proved the necessary elements for conviction, she asserted, including that the men knowingly entered private property after receiving notice not to trespass.

“The defendants’ actions in this case are brazen,” she told the jury.

Elk Mountain king dethroned?

Defense attorney Ryan Semerad painted a picture of ranch owner Eshelman, a wealthy North Carolina businessman, as a would-be king of Elk Mountain. The 11,161-foot high game-rich peak is largely surrounded by Eshelman’s ranch property. But a number of mile-by-mile U.S. Bureau of Land Management sections, as well as state-owned sections lie within the ranch boundaries.

The hunters set up camp on a public parcel accessible by a county road and then corner crossed to reach other public land where they killed two elk and a deer in the fall of 2021.

Defense attorney Katye Ames gets a hug from Brad Cape on Friday after his acquittal on trespass charges after corner crossing at Elk Mountain Ranch in 2021. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Eshelman used his money, clout and influence to get prosecutor Mayfield Davis to file charges, Semerad asserted.

“He believed the whole mountain was his and that no one but [he] was allowed to be there … like a king,” Semerad said. “When he hears there are some regular people on the other side of the mountain [he said] ‘go track them down, arrest those men!’

“He sends his helper to go call the county attorney’s office and here we are.

“The state told you the law was clear on this,” Semerad said of the trespass statutes. But the lack of an immediately issued citation shows otherwise, he said.

Neither a Wyoming Game and Fish Department warden nor a county sheriff’s deputy cited the men when they investigated the incident in the field. Game and Fish lacks authority to cite for criminal trespass and has a policy not to cite under the trespassing-to-hunt statute in corner-crossing cases.

Instead, corner-crossing cases are forwarded to the county attorney for consideration of charges. Warden Jacob Miller submitted a report to Mayfield Davis whose office later directed a deputy sheriff to cite the hunters.

Defense attorney David McCarthy outlined how that indecision demonstrated the law was unclear and that maybe the hunters did not knowingly enter private property after being notified not to trespass. He asked jury members to consider how such convoluted considerations would seem to them if employed when they were pulled over for speeding.

In such an instance, “have any of you been told ‘Oh, I’m going to call the county attorney’s office — I’ll get back to you?’” he asked.

Semerad said the hunters heard from a deputy that Game and Fish wouldn’t cite them for corner crossing. They heard a deputy himself say he wouldn’t cite them and a law officer said most of Wyoming’s county attorneys won’t cite for corner crossing.

“It’s clear as mud,” Semerad said of the trespass laws as they relate to corner crossing.

The defense also asserted that Mayfield Davis had not produced the necessary evidence to convict. On the trespassing-to-hunt alternative charge, for example, McCarthy said the prosecutor failed to show that each hunter, individually, had possessed a hunting weapon when seen after corner crossing.

Defense attorneys emphasized that public land is not the province of an individual and that no one person can control access to it.

“America has no king,” Semerad said. “Wyoming has no king, Carbon County has no king. There is no man [on] Elk Mountain who can make judgments on his will alone.”

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. I am not a lawyer, but I recall reading somewhere that “The law takes no notice of trivia.” If there is such a doctrine, it seems to me that it would rule in this case.

  2. I read on Meateater.com that the MO hunters were served a summons last week and now have to appear in court in June for a 2020 Trespass violation? Is this true? How is this not malicious prosecution if it is true?

    1. Many of us are hearing this, too. I say to Ashley Mayfield, GO FOR IT and take the whole county down with you. Meanwhile, Carbon County will be a haven for real criminals who’ll be able to move around freely since the Prosecutor is only interested in defending the oligarchs and persecuting the peasantry. Aww heck, it’s only the citizen’s money, the county can always tax them some more to underwrite the County Attorney’s personal vendetta

    2. That’s the rumor. She must be completely blind to the outrage, not only within the constituents of Carbon co but also the social media world. Or, hates herself so much that bringing on more hate effects her not. “If” Mayfield is that brazen to pull this stunt, then oh boy, the fireworks are going to start cracking. County leaders would be wise to invoke a 25th amendment move to rid the county of this mad-woman

    3. If Mayfield wants to burn the assets of Carbon County and go for broke, Wyo File should consider renting a satellite office in sunny downtown Rawlins (with a cot in the back room). Mr. Thuermer will be spending a lot of time doggin’ this rogue prosecutor.

  3. Malicious prosecution is what it was. Carbon County might just be a place to avoid with that kind of mentality lurking around the court house. It must take some mean type of people to willingly elect someone who’d burn up their tax dollars trying to railroad and burn at the stake these innocent hunters, all to please some ultra rich dude who comes and goes in a private jet. You’ve got a cancer festering, Carbon County with nobody to blame but yourselves

  4. Hey Saratoga, Rawlins and the rest of Carbon County, I have tourism slogan for ya’ all = Come to Carbon County, stay, play and spend your money and then we’ll either stick ya’ in jail or send you home with a ticket! Billionaire robber barons excluded, of course” I can just see a string of billboards strung from Salt Lake to Omaha, with this slogan printed on a background of snow capped mountains and Ashley Mayflields smirking mug in the corner of the signage.

    1. Love it! But instead of a background showing the Snowy Range, maybe ‘mountain’s” made by Mayfield’s leggo toys would be more appropriate? ‘the Snowy leggo’s’ 🙂 Carbon County needs to decide if they want to keep this out of control prosecutor and risk a bad reputation or cut their losses and start over with someone who can actually handle the job.

  5. I suppose there is quite about of resentment about the failure of the Carbon County Attorney and her literal toys in this court. There is no precedent set in a not guilty ruling at the circuit court level, any real change might come of the civil suit in circuit court. Magagna and the stock growers association will be rallying the troops with their ownership to infinity ideas to get some action from the hobby farmers and government sponsored ranchers that populate the legislature. This will make for a good story, a bunch of Wyoming people who claim they are for individual liberties teaming up with ultra wealthy shady out of state figures to puppet your lawmakers. Stay tuned!

  6. Maybe Ms. Mayfield should consider running for either a house or senate position in her district of Wyoming. We have one of those county prosecutor types up here in Riverton, Ember Oakley, house district 55 Rep. Like Mayfield, Oakley gravitates towards the big money and elite and the “names”. In fact, Ms. Oakley was conspiring (working) with other legislators to raise fines and lengthen jail sentences for joe public “trespassers” trying to access their lands. If I was a public land user (I am), I’d worry more about those legislators in Cheyenne vs. county attorneys. I imagine next legislative go-round Oakley and her partners will change the laws about corner crossing and eventually, the Fed’s will need to step in due to violation of the 1885 inclosures act. Well, that is if Oakley even runs again in hd 55. Last time, an outsider “Libertarian” that spent thousands less campaigning vs. Oakley ended up barely getting beat by 30 votes. 30 vote difference equaled a whopping 0.6 percent margin of victory for the “in house” Republican. Yes, we took notice up here in Fremont County and we’ve been watching the developments in Carbon County

  7. First off, thank goodness that the Missouri 4 won. They have some other challenges coming up with Eshelman civil garbage BS being thrown at them and don’t think for one minute you’ve seen the last of Mayfield-Davis. The actor who plays a bad guy in one flick is usually cast as the bad guy in the sequel. Until this bad actor is removed by the voters, I won’t be spending a dime in Carbon County, Wyoming. Billionaires and the average cow pie kicking welfare rancher love one thing about public land and grazing fees: it’s the paltry $1.35 month “rent” per cow & calf. On top of this joke of a rate, these folks also have exclusive use to outfit these landlocked parcels, with the inventory of wildlife being supplied for free by the taxpayers of Wyoming, so, that’s a 2nd thing for them to try and keep. What is it, these landlocked blm sections = acreage larger than Yellowstone? 2,400,000 acres? But, back to that cow & calf “rent”…in neighboring Nebraska, according to the latest figures from the Nebraska State Extension agency, the going rates range from $67 to $43, with a medium of $55 per month. Ok, compare the $1.35 Public Land (BLM & Forest Service) monthly rate vs. the $55 Nebraska private land rate. My math shows that the jet set Freddie Eshelman’s down to the barely hanging on cattleman living in a dugout will let it all hang out to protect their 98.5% rental rate discount, plus the free wildlife for their outfitting business and the ability to use these public land leases for loan collateral . What’s even sadder is, they have insiders within the walls of County Administration buildings that will stave off the public at great cost to the same public, but free for the robber barons. Something is extremely messed up and it’s time for a revolution in how these public lands are managed

  8. Way to go, love the results of this case. I’m sick and tired of property owners landlocking public land. Hope every state in the nation enact laws that allow the public to hunt on public land. No more land locking. By the way I’m a major land owner in 2 states.

  9. Recently, a committee was formed in Wyoming to discuss drones and where they crossed the line when being flown over private property. It was said that current law stated that the property owner owned the airspace on his property to the treetop line. Is this a real law or just a guideline? Curious if anyone knows and if that is relevant to this case? Honestly, this was the most petty whining by a landowner to seek “justice.” What if someone’s dog got loose and was retrieved by overstepping the boundary? Are they going to be prosecuted? This was such a waste of money but yet it brought the whole topic into heated discussion, which has turned in a good thing for the people wanting access to their lands. Good job jury!

  10. So I have to ask, and maybe the prosecutor made the point at the trial but… if the land owner owns the air above his property, just how high does that “ownership” go? 100 feet? 1000? 10,000? Higher? Does he plan on turning his favorite prosecutor loose on the owners of private aircraft that dare violate his airspace? Does he have plans to go after Delta, United, American, Frontier, etc?

  11. Thank God common sense prevailed in this ridiculous noncrime. The hunters should countersue the ranch owner for harassment.

  12. Good to see a reasonable outcome to unreasonable charges. Hope the same occurs in the civil case.

  13. It also occurs to me that the hospitality and tourism industry will suffer economic loss, as a result of news and publicity of the misguided prosecution performed by Mayfield Davis. The local chamber’s of commerce and tourism booster committees need to promptly take action to organize an ouster of Mayfield Davis, just to cut their economic losses while they can. I personally won’t take the risk of stopping in Carbon county for a restaurant meal, as I might sneeze while walking from my car. Mayfield Davis could attempt to prove that my rapid expulsion of air contains microscopic droplets of moisture with similar constituents as saliva, and charge me with spitting on the sidewalk. As long as she remains in office, I won’t spend even a penny in Carbon county. I hope the good citizens of Carbon county have enough common sense to protect the interests of their local economy by getting rid of her as quickly as possible, but if they don’t, that’s fine too. If they don’t, then perhaps those tourist dollars will be spent in my county instead! I will propose an advertising campaign to our chamber of commerce that invites tourists and hunters to our county, on the basis that we don’t support malicious prosecution of valuable tourists! That should send a common sense message, if nothing else.

  14. One added thought, the citizens of Carbon county need public servants with better judgement then that which was demonstrated by Mayfield Davis. Even if there are other wealthy out of state landowners with similar arrogant beliefs as Eshelman, that favor Mayfield Davis, even they would promptly have concluded that a jury wouldn’t support their exaggerated claim, because there was no harm intended nor done to Eshelman’s property. This is because Criminal Law, at its core, is designed to protect innocent people, or the community, from harm. The good citizens of Carbon county need to terminate their employment of Mayfield Davis, as she is not suitable for public service.

  15. This foolishness of a private individual restricting access to “Public” lands needs to be addressed by those we pay to regulate the law. This case has shown that there is a flaw in the system. Legislators fix it so we can enjoy our taxpayer rights to enjoy hunting lands without some rich out of state kook telling us we can’t.

  16. It is infuriating that a private property owner (Eshelman) was able to use the local authorities to attack and bully the hunters. They had obviously been respectful of his land and improvements, else he would have charged them with vandalism, if there had been even the slightest evidence that could hold up. This was clearly malicious prosecution on his part, and I suspect that if this was tried as a tort case (civil lawsuit), Mr. Eshelman would be found guilty and liable for damages and costs to be reimbursed to the hunters. That man (Mr. Eshelman) needs badly to “have his wings clipped”.

  17. This is not the end of this problem. Just wait until the next legislative session and see what changes are made to the law. Don’t place any bets thinking that this will become the norm and we will be able to hunt on all public lands. There are too many people with vested interests in seeing that public lands remain locked for personal use. It is not just rich out of staters!!!!!

    1. I agree Mr. Lieb…

      Land owners and welfare ranchers are only going to tighten the screws when it comes to allowing (preventing) access to public land. There is going to be more instances of this happening. It will mean job security for Mr. Thuermer.

  18. I believe the people have spoken! This is a great first step to end this nonsense of rich people from out of state buying land and thinking they own thee state or federal lands.

  19. so………….you’re saying these hunters should of used a canoe instead of a ladder? you asked why did these hunters go to wyoming? they went there to hunt, must not be obvious to you

  20. After this failed attempt at a town square public hanging, it has to make you wonder who else of the citizenry has been railroaded by the County Attorney? Unfortunately, not everyone can have the backing, resilience and resolve that supported these 4 Missouri gents. Job well done by the Wyo File staff on keeping us ‘commoners’ updated and I will bet Angus Thuermer is not done with the Carbon County D.A. just yet. James Brown sang about the “Big Payback” and I do hope these hunters get theirs.

  21. It looks like Mayfield/Davis, Attorney General for the Banana Republic of Carbon County, is showing off her assortment of personal toys. Look, they even come in different colors! The most unpopular woman in the Northern Rockies is going to need’em

  22. I have been pondering this case since first hearing about it and am sincerely gladdened by the outcome. For one thing, If the folks had been found guilty, think of the expense charging and prosecuting Mr. Eshelman with trespass for violating the public airspace above public land with his chains at the corner.

  23. I hope the rancher also had to pay all costs. While out of state hunters might have the money to fight such a claim, locals really needing the meat might not even though their state and country taxes would be supporting that public land.

    1. The government brought the charges (criminal case), so the North Carolina owner wouldn’t pay legal fees. However, and hopefully, there is a similar outcome in the civil case, and in that case legal fees could be pursued.

  24. This is odd that 4 men from Mo wud go to Wyoming to delibertly trespass on private property. Mo landowners almost lost our rights due to conservation dept and dnr telling a lie that non navigable rivers are public. Equal footing act of Congress said to become state must agree to not change classification of rivers. Ownership of non navigable rivers to be vested in landowner. Took 20 yrs of private businesses using private property while owner continued to pay taxes before we got our property back. Took property without due process or just compensation. Canoe rental business got total control and floaters thot river and land was public. Rental companies made money landowner paid expenses. So why are 4 Mo people causing trouble in Wyoming. Cuz didn’t get our property in Mo. Are they shopping for friendly state that will take from owner and give to public. Are they going to do this in all states. Vested means can never take away. Conservation and dnr quoted elder v delvur. Lower court ruled for fisherman. It was appealed to higher court. Thru out lower court ruling and addressed every issue navigable and non navigable rivers. Equal footing act.. 13 colonies. What’s these guys real agenda. They went to Wyoming to cause trouble. Why else take ladder with them. Something stinks in this matter.

    1. Juanita,
      Interesting questions, these hunters were told in 2020 they could not trespass in the same location.

      One of the hunters is a fencing contractor, so apparently he knows all about property boundaries, so they developed a plan to go over the corner with a ladder the next year in an attempt not to touch the Private Property.

      I have no doubt they researched the issue on various online “Hunting” forums. The discussion’s forums are often very anti private property while promoting trespassing.

      Sadly the County failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that crossing a property boundary is illegal.

      The decision of the court will likely, promote trespassing across Private Property. Landowners will be less likely to allow access on parcels adjacent to Federal and State lands.

  25. Great outcome…Thank Angus for getting this story out. I’m all for public access to public lands and your story opened my eyes to the vast amount of WY public lands-over 2M acres. Hoping this outcome changes other states access issue as well.

  26. Here in NH hunting and fishing are huge recreations. And we solved the above issue easily. When someone “owns” a huge swath of land, and yet wants a tax break, the land in question is put “in use” by the county. Which simply means it may not be cut for timber, nor built on. And becomes open for public access.
    If the landowner wants to limit the above, they must pay full property taxes and post the property every 100′ around the perimeter with appropriate signage.

  27. There was no harm done to the landowner. That is the heart of the issue. The homeowner acted as if Russia had invaded and done real damage. In other cases, it may be different. Say crossing a small parcel of land.

    Landowners still have plenty of options for preventing access to public lands. And public lands that don’t share a public corner with another section of public land remain off limits.

    Private control of these public lands for private gain is still very much alive and many of our elected reps have shown their interest in preventing access to public lands via corner crossing.

    The public/private airspace issue is real and far from resolved. As is the issue of how to responsibly and legally access public lands, and keeping them from being locked up to begin with.

    1. George,
      Perhaps, the Landowner may not have asked for charges -if- the hunters didn’t blatantly disregard his property boundaries.
      It seems the hunters didn’t like being told in 2020, they could not trespass, obviously they have a problem with the word NO..

  28. After this near Latin American style trial and execution, it might be prudent to review all of the past, current and future cases that this county prosecutor has touched with a jaundiced eye. Where there’s smoke there’s ______! when I log into WyoFile, a window pops up with a donation request. This coverage of this Carbon Co. folly convinced me to send a few bucks. I seriously Doubt Attny Mayfield-Davis would care to contribute 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. Where was the robber baron who was so damaged, distraught and frantic over the commoner DIY Missouri hunters touching, dirtying and molesting his sovereign air space? Didn’t the defendants have the right to look their accuser in the eye? WyoFile and Mr. Thuermer did a fantastic job covering this would-be public lynching and believe me, the word is out on all of the hunting and outdoor recreational social media sites. This Ashley Mayfield person is going to famous and I’m sure Fred Eshelman will be hiding behind his piles of opioid money not really caring. Again, he didn’t even bother to fly his Gulfstream to attend the trial. Hopefully the Show Me State Four DIY party will also knock’em down and get some payback in the upcoming civil garbage that’s been thrown at them

  30. Why don’t we solve this problem. Cut the corners such that there is a square where the four corners would meet that is neutral territory. This corner square would have five foot sides so anyone wanting to cross could do so legally. The corner would have to be posted if off terrain vehicle should be allowed or just horses and hiking

    1. Seems a reasonable solution to avoid future unreasonable charges against citizens.

  31. It is interesting to me that the DA, Ms Davis, stated, ‘the law is you own the airspace above the land you own.’ How does that work? What do you own? Do you own the air? But only when it’s above your land? If you don’t own the air then what do you own? A vacuum? Which technically is nothing. How can you ‘own’ nothing? Or is it ‘a nothing’?
    My experience is when one owns land adjacent to public water your land ownership ends at the high water mark. You don’t own any distance into the water.
    So is the law that every landowner in the state of WY can charge trespass if anyone so much as waves a hand over their property? Could be a huge revenue stream for the State/Counties if they could convince many of the people in suburban areas to snag pics/videos of the many people strolling down the street who often wave an arm, retrieve their dog, make a turn, etc, and in doing so have a body part ‘trespass’ into someone’s airspace. Think of the tax burden relief!
    Being sarcastic of course but it does highlight the ridiculous concept of private ownership of airspace.

    1. High water mark refers to navigable rivers. Nav means interstate commerce and forgien trade. Nav river State owns bed.. water is public.. regulated by fed gov. Non navigable ownership is vested to landowner. Vested means cannot take away . They tried towhat u just

    2. and if I do own the air above my property, why can I not sue local oil and gas companies for polluting it? I would love to stop the ozone trespassers in the spring.

  32. Thank you WyoFile for keeping us so well informed. I also thank the 4 non-resident hunters for pursuing this issue. It is unfortunate the Carbon County tax payers are losers financially in this law suit.

  33. That’s a great photo caption used for this headline. There you have King Eshelman’s shill, holding what appears to be a Lego toy rated for use by 0 to 4 year olds. Did Mayfield also bring along a tea set? Barbie dolls? What an expensive joke played on not only the hunting party that were getting rammed in the you-know-what but also on the residents of Carbon Co, who I’ll bet won’t be laughing when they get their bill for this Court play date

  34. let’s break down the facts. The sheriff was at the scene of the alleged “crime” at Elk Mt and saw nothing illegal that obligated him to write a ticket for trespassing (or any other offense). The g & f warden was at the scene of the “crime” and saw nothing illegal that obligated him to write a ticket for trespassing (or any other offense). The Elk Mt people call up the Carbon County Attorney who immediately started piling up bogus charges on the hunters. Even Ray Charles could see who’s pocket Ashley Mayfield-Davis, JD., sits in. —- Consider another fact. The Elk Mt goonery squad clearly committed hunter harassment (Wy S.S. 23-6-202) when they were hazing and intimidating the hunters while they were in legal pursuit of wildlife. “NOPE”…won’t hear of it cries Mayfield-Davis. Gotta hand it to this County Attorney, she didn’t care about the obvious and blatant bias, it was all hands and deck and try to stop me. Well, my little lego-toy playing friend, a jury of 6 common sense Wyomingites only took 2 hours to come up with a verdict. I imagine they spent the first 1 hour and 59 minutes laughing at you. Good lord I hope these hunters can turn around and sue you back to the stone ages. The only thing you won in this kangaroo court is a bad reputation. Hmm, I wonder if the Eshelman legal team is hiring? I’ll bet Mr. Fred don’t like losers

  35. I thank the common sense jourors on this case. I have no doubt Eshelman wanted the public land on the other side to be his private hunting/fishing grounds . There should be easment’s to public property. To me it’s theft of public property and he should be charged. There’s easements on house properties up to side walks. Right through and over your property. There’s an easement 6 ft. around any telephone or power pole in your yard. You can’t refuse a Lineman or technician access to that pole on your property. I know. I was a Lineman and have called Sheriff’s and city police to get me access. Somebody mentioned having an easement space built into the corners. Excellent idea but the cattleman’s and stock association have too big of a pull on our polititions, lawmakers, courts, etc. Same thing goes for the Outfitter’s Association. The state of Wyoming denying access of non residents to wilderness areas within National Forests . Federal/public land.
    How can the state make Laws on Federal lands ? Does a grizzly bear only attack non residents ? No. But those clients of non residents to Outfitter, Fish and Game and state are important to the economy of Wyoming. It’s been to court and failed . Sorry I got off topic. Anyway I’m very pleased with the verdict . I hope the four hunters sue Eshelman to regain the cost for their attorney fees and loss of work. I hope this sends a precedent to all the Land Barron Kings not just here but in the United States.

  36. I agree philosophically with the outcome of the trial. Those of you railing against the county attorney because of the cost to the taxpayers should be aware there would be no costs to the county except the cost of the jury which might have been $400.00 and the cost of any experts the county hired to testify. I don’t know whether the county called any experts. Other than those costs, it is unlikely there were any costs above the salaries of those involved.

    1. Peter Arnold, you’ll a little right and a lot WRONG. Hours and hours were wasted by Mayfield and her Lackey department preparing for this banana republic hanging. Hours of wages, hours of office equipment use and hours NOT spent convicting real criminals. You can include an astronomical cost of a sullied reputation cast upon Carbon County, it’s governmental institution and the citizens. Let’s not forget the cost to the defendants, their legal defense and the groups and individuals who backed the diy’ers. Guess who gets off scott free? Buzillionaire Fred Eshelman cuz’ his shill county attorney did that all for him AT NO CHARGE. Peter Arnold, 400 bucks ain’t quite gonna cut it

    2. Every minute spent on this case by the prosecutor was a minute not spent working on convicting actual criminals.

  37. Perhaps it would be clearer if Wyoming would annex such pieces of land so that there were clear pathways from one piece of public land to another. This corner crossing would seem to be ridiculous to an outsider looking in.

  38. The prosecutions argument that the airspace above private land is private is total bs. If so to what altitude: 5 ft? 100ft? 100O? 40,000? If so every airline and military airplane flying over my 5 acres is trespassing.

    I can fly over every inch of his land at any altitude I want. If you ask about jurisdiction you have to go the the FAA. They regulate it as public use airspace much as BLM regulates public lands with different rules primarily around airports for traffic safety.

  39. I am very proud to have contributed to the defense fund for these hunters. This is a great example of what we as hunters, public land enthusiasts, and common sense citizens can accomplish when there is a just cause. The law enforcement officers in this case handled themselves with class and professionalism. Even the ranch manager is simply doing what his job requires. The two people that should be ashamed are the duplicite County Attorney and the greedy, self-important ranch owner. I am surprised the national media has not picked up on this story – it is a big deal. The whole issue of landlocked public land is a big deal. The reporting by AMT, Jr. has been excellent and thank you.

    1. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acres of public land are “landlocked” in just this manner. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers work to keep public lands in public hands. Remember, YOU are a Public Land Owner!

  40. In teaming up with the elk mountain oligarch, Ms. Mayfield thought she’d just steamroll right over the hapless non resident hunters. How did that work out for you, Ashley. It’ s a pretty well known fact that you’ve been scouring WyoFile daily reading the comments of your ‘fans’ so here’s a request for you. Submit a comment showing the final tally for ruse you put on. how much $$$ did you stick your constituents up the rear with? Believe me, the very thorough and professional Mr. Angus of http://www.wyofile.com is not done with this fiasco yet and will burn right through any first amendment block and freedom of information act juke move you will try to make to hide this information. What a disgusting situation you created in Carbon County, Wyoming

  41. Do not blame law enforcement and public defenders for enforcing the law of the state. Actually I felt very sorry for them being put in that position.
    The real question is whether the law is valid. This verdict is the first step is saying it is not. It is ludicrous to say air space above property is private. Certainly law makers knew this when they passed that law. But, there is an arrogance in Wyoming that believed they could intimidate the little guy into staying away from their “kingdoms.” It is time to reinforce the Unlawful Enclosures Act. The checker board always gave access to other livestock owners and wildlife under that act until the private landowners within those areas enacted a body of laws like the corner crossing law to take that away. North and South of the railroad access was suddenly restricted accross the south part of the state during the 80’s due to the corner crossing law. Most of us can remember hunting and fishing in the past. Now, access is limited to those who pay for it.

  42. If the law is clear as Davis stated, is she not intelligent enough to introduce the law as evidence . Maybe she don’t really know the law. I believe she needs to go bye bye and take her legos with her. She would be a better bet in a more liberal atmosphere. This is a good start, but with all the acres involved the battle has just began.

  43. I have a feeling this is not the end of this question of corner crossing. The ranch owner is famous for litigation and I doubt this result will stop him. Though I think the majority of folks clearly feel the county attorney wasted taxpayer dollars bringing this case forward, she did bring the corner crossing question to the kitchen table for discussion among folks who maybe had not thought about access to public lands if they weren’t sportsman. It’s a question that needed to be examined and needs to be clarified. One of the subtitles is the amount of out of state landowners who have bought large portions of Carbon County and locked out all access. They come for the huge tax relief granted to them when they own large swaths of agriculture land. They do not become part of the fabric of Carbon County, and do not understand hunting, fishing and land use, nor do they care. They are accustomed to using money and litigation to bend their neighbors and small county courts like ours to their will. This is the even larger problem. At least in this instance, responsible access was upheld.

  44. Well, a reasonable decision by the Jury. Thanks to them an injustice was not made. Now we need our State legislators to write a bill dismissing the air as impassable when corner crossing. How about it legislators, let’s hear from you folk!!!

  45. The French are very committed to their hunting rights. They have the right to cross private land to access public land. The fact that hunting was reserved to the nobility contributed to the Revolution.

  46. larry skow, who’s “DOW”??? The rich landowners are going to find that the will and resolve of public land recreationalists will trump their pocketbooks.

    1. Division of Wildlife is referred to as DOW. Commonly known as “Game Wardens”. Also BLM and other federal agency’s are very well known to block access’s to public lands. Just pull a reason out of thin air.

  47. Thank you, Wyoming jurors. But how many more farcical displays like this must be suffered until federal law is imposed (sorry to say so) on greedy land barons and unjust local prosecutors? Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was spinning in his grave until this verdict. C’mon BLM, Forest Service and other stewards of our public lands; promote uniform rules allowing public access to our “landlocked” public lands.

  48. I will savor this victory for public access. But when wealthy people with nearly unlimited resources seek to deny access to public lands, it’s a safe bet this is only the first of many battles. That said, I think public land users owe a debt of thanks to these 4 hunters, and to Back Country Hunters and Anglers who helped raise awareness and financial resources for their defense. And thanks to WyoFile for keeping the public in the loop. As a side note, I hope Carbon County voters remember who the county prosecutor is willing to protect and who she isn’t. Legal protections should extend to all, not just those with unlimited bank accounts.

  49. Absolutely a wonderful job done by Angus M. and the staff @ WyoFile! True and concise journalism is the bane of government overreach and corruption. Thanks for your dedication and not backing down when the Carbon County Prosecutor tried to cut your freedom of information off at the knees. I would not be surprised if Ashley Mayfield & Co. will try to strike back at you and WyoFile (and your commenters) for exposing their games and misuse of both the public’s money and trust. But first, Mayfield needs to rush to the bank and cash that big Elk Mtn ranch reelection donation before Freddie puts a stop on that check 🙂

  50. Nice to see that 6 of us common folk have more good sense and better ethics than deep pockets and their bought politicians. Is it public land or not? I would say not if it can’t be accessed by the public. At the risk of involving politicians, the checkerboard land division itself should be resolved, even now that corner crossing seems to be legal, it’s still a farce of a policy needed for the public to access public land.

  51. These large landowners and their organizations such as the Wyoming Stock Growers Association put tremendous pressure on local governments and justice system officials to enforce their view of reality and the law.

    A case conclusion like this gives those public servants some power to push back. I hope county attorneys like Davis now will tell public land grabbers like Eshelman to give it a rest.

    Meanwhile, keep an eye on the legislature. We may see an effort by the WSGA to push a bill granting landowners the first fifty feet of air above their dirt … or perhaps more if their castles have towers reaching higher.

  52. Great news, indeed. Where do I get my ladder? Change is coming Wyoming where a rancher is no longer judge, jury and executioner. Those hunters were on PUBLIC LAND.

  53. It looks like the D.A.’s so clever use of that three-dimensional “toy” pretty much backfired. It was the 2022 version of the Bloody glove used in the OJ trial. “If the toy don’t fit, you must acquit” The real losers of this mock trial are the county taxpayers who bankroll this woman. Election season is coming up and a whole lot of eyes will be on Carbon County to see what they do with this reckless and wasteful public servant

  54. Fred Eshelman = Oligarch = King of the Mountain = Fool on the Hill (Beatles song – check out the lyrics). Ashley Mayfield = Eshelman’s Court Jester. It’s very apparent that the County Prosecutor sold short the will of not only the Missouri Four, but also that of the citizenry of Wyoming. Mayfield’s witch hunt, meant to torch these guys at the stake, only burned one thing – the taxpayer’s money. I heard that the prosecution team was giddy in planning a big victory celebration for Friday night. Looks like the reservation at Rawlins’ finest restaurant got cancelled. An absolute joke and waste of Carbon County resources and I hope to god that the Missouri gents can turn around and sue the pants (or skirts) off for those responsible for this folly

  55. Somehow this won’t be over. Highly likely what will happen is DOW will start blocking all access into these corners. It’s been done elsewhere. The rich landowners don’t intend to grant access to us peons.

  56. There is still hope that want to be oligarchs like Eshelman cannot buy his way into controlling our public lands without paying for it outright. One less Putin style land grabber we now have to deal with!

  57. So the photo shows the prosecutor playing with a 3-dimensional toy. Fitting, as this trial was nothing more than a gleeful witch hunt for this woman. What a waste of time, money and energy. The County Attorney business is not meant for amateurs. Or sell outs.

    1. Yes, supposedly the land owner owns the “air” above the land according to the prosecutor. I’m wondering how “high” they might go.

  58. Public land is owned by Americans, ALL Americans. The accuracy of GPS has changed the access issue.

  59. Nor is there any “king of the air” claiming ownership of the air all life breathes and communicates through … other than our Prime Creator. Air, fire, earth, and water exists in all creation as Atom, which is quantum energy and pure unconditional love … God Almighty. Man created in the image of God has dominion. Genesis day 6. Principalities, government officials, and corporate entities or rulers of this world took oaths and made covenants with God to serve humanity.

  60. Thank you.
    Access to public land should not be controlled by the rich. These areas are for all the people. I understand corner crossing and one individual placing himself as a war lord should not be tolerated. These individuals didn’t use his land. They made it a point to stay on and only use public land.

  61. If there is State land in there does the state have access to that property? Does the state make any money from that parcel? Maybe grazing fees?

    1. Good questions Stan. In an earlier WyoFile article about this case, a commentor asked how the BLM accessed their land. Maybe Mr. Thuermer could write another fine future article addressing these questions.

    2. There is no such thing as state land. There is school trust land , held in trust by the State of Wyoming for the school children of Wyoming. Just as I can be a trustee for my children’s trust, I cannot own the trust. It does not belong to me, and I have a duty to make as much money as I can for the trust. The state continues to fail in this regard. They either need to charge “the king” a heavy access fee if he wants to close it off, or they need to charge hunters to hunt on it. What they must do is stop acting like it is theirs to blow off potential revenue. Get with it SLIB!

  62. Ashley Mayfield Davis, what an utter failure you created here. Recklessly wasting the time of your County, spending needless taxpayer money on this ruse and putting these four gentleman through your charade. Your “King” over there on Elk Mountain was reduced to a regular Joe and it looks the “Show Me State” hunters showed you and the rest of us exactly what an embarrassment you are, not only in Carbon County, but the entire State. Games over, are you going to personally compensate all the people the you pickpocketed?

  63. Justice has been served. The King has been dethroned, now time to rid Carbon County of a morally bankrupt DA who would even take in such a cock and bull load of malarkey. Faith restored in the local justice system for all public land owners.

    1. Steve,
      This decision has proven the Courts and Game and Fish will not protect Private Property rights. This will backfire on Public Access.

      If Landowner rights are not protected by law, they will take care of protecting their rights on the land.

      1. Maybe Public Lands Owners should protect their rights to public land in the same way. Whatever you are eluding to.