Yoder ranchers agree to mediation with neighbor over stalking charges
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- During an arraignment hearing Thursday, the Yoder ranchers accused of stalking their neighbor agreed to settle the case outside of court through mediation.
For the last two years, Courtney and Nicole Mallery allege they have been racially attacked by their neighbors and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, including the destruction of property, threats, and the mutilation of livestock.
The EPCSO denied the allegations, and their neighbor claims she’s the one being harassed and threatened.
Teresa Clark lives just south of the Mallery’s hundred-acre ranch. A road separates the Mallery and Clark family properties. According to an arrest affidavit, the road is not maintained by the county and is the only way to Clark’s property. Meanwhile, the Mallery’s have two entrances to their property — one off of that easement and another one further north off of Lauppe Road.
According to the arrest affidavit for the Mallery’s felony stalking charges, they repeatedly use the easement when Clark is home, threatening her. It also said the Mallery’s told Clark what to pack for heaven and yelled, “hands up, don’t shoot.”
Ramsey Lama, a former judge in the 11th Judicial District and now a defense attorney, spoke with 13 Investigates about the charges against the Mallerys. He said the intent of the Mallerys driving up and down a road they are allowed to use must be proven.
“If the allegation is they're always driving up my street, well, they live on that street,” Lama said. “They necessarily have to drive on that street, so I'm sure the defense is looking at that as we speak.”
Lama said Clark’s alleged repetition of the stalking is what makes the charges a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
“It can get upgraded if the individual is alleged to repeatedly follow, approach, contact, place under surveillance or makes any form of communication with another person,” Lama said.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office also confiscated three of the Mallery’s security cameras pointed at Clark’s house — another element of felony stalking. But the cameras were on the Mallery’s property, which Lama said isn’t illegal.
“How is their behavior of putting a surveillance camera on their house criminal when we have lots of other folks who do it? It's not,” Lama said. “So it's probably going to be fact dependent, the context. ‘Was it done in a manner to intimidate?’”
Lama said he would need more evidence outside of the arrest affidavits to determine how strong of a case the defense and prosecution have, like the video from the security cameras obtained by the EPCSO.
To avoid court proceedings, the Mallerys requested mediation Thursday. 13 Investigates tried to ask the couple questions before and after the hearing but they ignored us. Their attorneys also declined to comment.
Clark will have to agree to the scheduled mediation in late April.
A spokesperson with the 4th Judicial District wouldn’t confirm if Clark has accepted mediation. 13 Investigates reached out to Clark but she didn’t get back to us.
Lama said the potential penalties for a Class 5 felony, like stalking, could range from one to three years in prison, two years of parole, and up to $100,000 in fines. But there isn’t a mandatory period of incarceration for this offense, meaning the Mallerys could only get probation.