Printed on: September 25, 2013

Motion to dismiss filed in killing

By RUTH BROWN
rbrown@postregister.com

Brothers Vernon and Alan Brown filed a motion Friday to dismiss their first-degree murder charges, saying a federal court does not have jurisdiction.

Vernon Brown, 54, and Alan Brown, 61, are federally charged in the killing of 47-year-old Tad Barnson, an Idaho Falls man who went missing in 2006.

Barnson's remains were found March 10 by hikers about 3 miles east of Riverton, Wyo. His death was ruled a homicide due to blunt-force and penetrating trauma injuries. Barnson's belt and boots were found near his body. He is believed to have been killed on or about May 6, 2006.

Defense attorney P. Craig Silva of Casper, Wyo., filed the motion to dismiss, which states that because the allegation indicates Barnson was murdered in the area known as Double Dives, it is not on the confines of the Wind River Indian Reservation. If the murder did not occur on the reservation, only state court would have jurisdiction in the case, not federal court, according to the motion.

The motion states that numerous law enforcement reports and grand jury testimony say it is in Indian Country. But the defense argues that cartographer David Geible's map indicates the coordinates of where the reported fatal assault occurred are not on the reservation.

Geible works for the Fremont County Assessor's Office in Wyoming.

"While the city of Riverton may be located on lands that at one time were within the external boundaries of the reservation, those lands are no longer part of the reservation and are not Indian Country," according to the motion.

Vernon Brown and Alan Brown, both of the Wind River Indian Reservation, are charged with first-degree murder and aiding and abetting, and kidnapping and aiding and abetting.

The motion filed asks only that the murder and aiding and abetting charges be dismissed, not the kidnapping and aiding and abetting charges.

A court hearing is set for Oct. 29 to review the motion.

The defense filed a request Monday to issue a subpoena to mandate that Geible testify at the hearing.

Silva declined to comment on both the motion and the request for a subpoena.

The Browns are set for trial Nov. 12.

First-degree murder and aiding and abetting and kidnapping and aiding and abetting are punishable by up to life in prison or death.