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Trial Begins For Men Accused of Organizing Ride into Recapture Canyon

Judy Fahys
File: San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman addresses a group gathered before a protest ride into Recapture Canyon

The jury trial of the four men accused of conspiring to illegally ride their ATV’s into Recapture Canyon last May began in Federal Court on Wednesday.

Attorneys for the U.S. Government spent the day calling witnesses who testified that the four men, including San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, clearly knew beforehand that riding ATV’s into Recapture Canyon was illegal and chose to do it anyway. Former Utah Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Juan Palma, testified that he sent several emails warning Lyman not to ride ATV’s into the closed area.

But attorneys for the defense called into question how clear those admonitions really were. They questioned Palma about a phone conversation he had with Lyman about a week before the ride where Palma said no one is going to arrest anyone or do any of that kind of thing.

The government is expected to close its case Thursday. The defense will then lay out its case, with the trial expected to conclude by the end of the week. 

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