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Jury finds Dennis Rainey responsible in tree-trimming case, fines him $1,000

A 12-person jury on Friday afternoon discovered Dennis Rainey, an evangelist writer who was charged for trimming bushes on and round his Lake Maumelle property in 2021, responsible of felony mischief within the second diploma. This was the lesser of the 2 felony fees on the desk, and the jury additionally assigned a $1,000 effective. Rainey will serve no jail time, and he has 30 days to enchantment the sentence.

Pulaski County Decide Cathi Compton began the three-day trial on Wednesday. Jurors heard from a complete of 11 witnesses, together with Rainey himself, and his spouse, Barbara. Rainey was going through a felony cost for felony mischief for the trimming of bushes on Central Arkansas Water property to enhance his view to Lake Maumelle off his again porch. Rainey’s authorized group, Attorneys David Parker and Judson Kidd, argued that Rainey was performing underneath the idea that he had permission to chop the bushes from a earlier trimming within the Nineties. The state group, led by Prosecuting Lawyer Robert Jones, argued that permission for the 2021 trimmings was not granted. Central Arkansas Water valued the damages at greater than $109,000 for a complete of 111 bushes.

Feeling neglected? Compensate for Wednesday’s trial here, and Thursday’s trial here.

Michael Marter, a registered forester and licensed appraiser with DDK Forestry & Actual Property, testified first on Friday. He assessed the injury on Rainey’s property in 2021 after an worker with Central Arkansas Water requested it. Marter mentioned the trimming resulted in $1,048 price of injury based mostly on market timber values. Harm to bushes that had been nonetheless standing weren’t included as a result of they had been nonetheless serving their function on the watershed, he mentioned.

Marter agreed with earlier testimony from David Reinold, with whom he works intently, that the trunk method method was not acceptable for Rainey’s property. The trunk method methodology was utilized in a separate analysis of damages by Bryan Rupar, who testified on Wednesday. The tactic makes use of varied calculations to find out the injury to the bushes given their location and enhancement to a property. As a result of the broken bushes had been on a watershed property with a nationwide path operating via it, the values elevated.

Marter additionally walked via a number of images that confirmed Rainey’s property in April 2023. He did acknowledge that trimming or topping bushes might put the bushes liable to loss of life, however he mentioned that these bushes had been solely impacted within the brief time period. To make an assumption about damages that might happen a number of years sooner or later could be unethical, Marter mentioned. The images additionally confirmed regrowth.

Rainey himself took the witness stand subsequent. He defined a few of his private life, which incorporates being a husband, a father to 6 youngsters and a grandfather to 27 grandchildren. Rainey authors and co-authors books along with his spouse, Barbara, about learn how to preserve a long-lasting marriage and blissful household life. Rainey mentioned that when his household moved into his home in Roland in 1983, it was clear that the bushes off the again porch had beforehand been lower for the view.

Rainey’s legal professional prompted him to share a narrative from 1985 during which he had taken a chainsaw to an oak tree on Central Arkansas Water land with out permission. Rainey’s younger son was with him on the time and questioned the slicing as a result of it was past their very own property line. Rainey attested that the property strains weren’t that clear on the market, and he lower it anyway. For about two months after the occasion, Rainey mentioned he was riddled with guilt. Each time he opened the Bible, he noticed bushes. Rainey mentioned that God was urging him to make restitution. So, Rainey known as Central Arkansas Water — which was then named Little Rock Municipal Water Works — to elucidate what occurred and supply to pay for damages. Rainey mentioned he was informed it was no large deal and to maneuver on.

In 1996, Rainey mentioned that he sought permission to trim the bushes on Central Arkansas Water’s land that had been obstructing his yard view. He testified that he believed he had that permission, although no documentation was ever created. He mentioned that he was by no means notified the permission had been revoked, and he by no means known as once more to ask for permission to chop bushes earlier than he did so in 2021. Rainey mentioned he solely lower the bushes on CAW’s property as a result of he believed that his permission from about 27 years in the past was enough.

“Not in my wildest creativeness that as a person who lived most of his life right here … that this might be handled as one thing I might go to jail for,” Rainey mentioned. “Wonderful.”

Addressing a gathering with CAW workers the place he said he had “buddies in excessive locations,” Rainey mentioned that he talked about this as a result of he felt it was essential for them to know, and as a strategy to attest to his character. The identical was true for the point out of his 1000’s of social media followers, he mentioned.

Going ahead, Rainey mentioned that he believes there isn’t any permission to chop bushes on Central Arkansas Water property. He mentioned that he now understands it’s towards code, and he understands that his permission is revoked. Barbara Rainey echoed these sentiments on the witness stand subsequent and vouched for her husband’s character. She additionally attested to the bushes’ regrowth.

In closing arguments, the state steered Rainey was asking for forgiveness moderately than permission, and it was “insane” that Rainey claimed he was performing on permission from the Nineties and the entire tree injury may very well be as little as $65. Rainey’s group argued that he was a person of integrity and would have by no means lower the bushes if he was conscious he was doing one thing fallacious. The protection additionally introduced in a last-minute witness earlier than sentencing to additional vouch for Rainey’s character.

The jury deliberated for about two and a half hours to resolve whether or not Rainey was responsible. The felony mischief within the second diploma got here with a definition that Rainey was performing “recklessly.” First diploma, the extra extreme crime, would have been assigned if the jury felt Rainey was performing “purposefully.” It solely took a couple of minutes for the jury to resolve on the sentencing metric; $1,000 was the best effective for the vary that they chose, and they didn’t assign any jail time, although as much as 90 days was an choice.

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