A man who identifies as a "Moorish National" sovereign citizen immune from state and federal law had no luck persuading the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn his convictions arising from his occupancy of an Indianapolis house that was being prepared for sale after foreclosure.
Wendell Brown, also known as Menes Ankh El, was found squatting in a home on West 39th Street in Indianapolis in April 2012, when a listing agent drove by on an occasional inspection of the property. Ankh El told the agent he had purchased the property, at which time the agent called police.
Ankh El told police he had documents proving his ownership of the home, and he later produced a self-made identification card and a deed he had drafted entitled “Freehold in Deed” giving him possession of the property. Police arrested him and found he had moved himself and many possessions into the house.
A jury convicted Ankh El on all five counts — Class C felonies burglary and forgery, Class D felony theft, and misdemeanors trespass and driving while suspended. The theft and trespass convictions were merged as lesser-included offenses and he was sentenced to four years, with two served in community corrections and two suspended to probation.
The Court of Appeals affirmed Tuesday, rejecting much of Ankh El’s appeal based on Moorish National sovereign citizen arguments that courts and laws of the state didn’t apply to him. Ankh El “argues that he is ‘a member of the ‘sovereignty’ and is ‘not bound by general words in statutes,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel. “Instead, ‘[a]s a sentient being,’ he claims that he is ‘governed by common law and [has] the natural right to do anything which [his] inclinations may suggest, if it be not evil in itself, and in no way impairs the rights of others. … We find no merit in (his) rambling contentions.”
The panel held that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over Ankh El; the denial of his request to retain “Consuls from the Moorish American Nation” was proper because they were not licensed to practice law in Indiana; the evidence was sufficient; the charging information was not defective for listing his given name of Wendell Brown; and the court did not exhibit prejudice resulting in fundamental error by preventing him from presenting an adverse-possession defense.
Ankh El told the agent and police “that he was the owner of the property, which he had recently purchased for $250,000 ... created a deed purporting to claim the Property as his own, and he filed this homemade document with the Marion County Recorder,” Riley wrote in Wendell Brown a/k/a Menes Ankh El v. State of Indiana,
49A05-1311-CR-550. “He also hung a flag on the front gate, changed all of the locks, and posted multiple signs warning against trespassing” after moving in with his possessions. “... [I]t is apparent (he) intended to steal the Property from its owner(s).”