A southern Indiana logger convicted of three counts of theft after he reneged on agreements to equally split proceeds with landowners for timber he harvested from their property lost his appeal Tuesday. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claims he was denied a speedy trial and the evidence was insufficient.
The Class D felony charges against Gary Mefford stem from incidents as far back as 2006. His company, Gary Mefford Logging, entered into contracts with three landowners in which he agreed to cut timber from their land and split proceeds 50/50. Landowners who grew suspicious after Mefford presented them checks for thousands of dollars less than they anticipated contacted the Department of Natural Resources. A DNR investigation resulted in criminal charges lodged in 2009.
After both Mefford and the state requested and were granted numerous continuances, Jennings Circuit Judge Jon W. Weber convicted Mefford on all three counts after a bench trial in February 2015. Mefford was given an 18-month executed sentence.
Mefford appealed on the basis his trial date was untimely under Criminal Rule 4(C), but Judge Edward Najam wrote Mefford cannot avail himself of the one-year speedy trial rule. “Mefford himself requested that that (initial) trial date be continued, and he subsequently filed six additional requests to continue the trial, all but the last of which were granted,” Najam wrote. “And Mefford’s counsel did not object to any of the State’s four requests to continue the trial date.”
Likewise, Najam wrote, “There is sufficient evidence that Mefford agreed to pay the landowners 50 percent of the gross proceeds but knew that he had given them at most 50 percent of the net proceeds.”
The case is Gary L. Mefford v. State of Indiana, 40A01-1504-CR-147.