Tree Thief’s Claim of Ancient Forest Rights Denied, Guilty Verdicts Upheld by Judge

ROLFE, Iowa – A district court judge has denied a repeated effort by a man accused of stealing trees from the state to negate his guilty verdicts. Jason Levant Ferguson, 41, of Rolfe, was convicted in November of felony theft and 50 timber violations. His attorney, Kevin Fors of Harcourt, argued that the jury made an error in the conviction, insisting that Ferguson had the right to cut firewood and timber from public land for survival purposes.

Fors has invoked England’s Charter of the Forest, a document from 800 years ago that established the rights of commoners to use public lands, in defense of Ferguson’s actions. Ferguson allegedly stole over 100 trees from the Stoddard Wildlife Management Area, including a bur oak that had a base width of six feet.

District Court Judge Derek Johnson previously declined a motion for a new trial, ruling that the English charter does not apply to US forests. On Wednesday, Judge Johnson rejected a recent request to overturn the guilty verdicts, citing his ruling from December.

Ferguson is due to be sentenced on January 26th and could face up to five years in prison for the theft charge, as well as one year for each of the 50 timber violations. It is important to note that Ferguson had also faced multiple felony drug charges, which were dismissed due to improperly approved search warrants.

In conclusion, a district court judge in Rolfe, Iowa, has upheld the guilty verdicts for Jason Levant Ferguson, who was convicted of stealing trees from public land. Ferguson’s attorney argued that he had the right to take the timber for survival purposes, invoking an ancient English charter. However, the judge ruled that the charter does not apply to US forests. Ferguson now awaits his sentencing, where he could potentially face several years in prison.