Plainfield Man Charged With Trespassing in Tree-Cutting Incident
Plainfield — The former owner of a property that grew Christmas trees claims he had permission to harvest the trees even though he sold the property two years ago.
The current owners say they changed their mind about letting Kinsely “Lee” Walker cut trees on property his family owned for years and ordered him off their land. Now Walker is facing charges for cutting down 120 of the trees on his neighbor’s property on Sanborn Road.
Walker, 49, was arrested in November and charged with misdemeanor counts of trespass and criminal mischief for allegedly cutting down the trees on the property that, until a few years ago, belonged to his family.
The owners, Jennifer Lesser and George Sandmann, told police that Walker came onto their property without permission, ignored several requests to leave and, while they watched, cut down trees that belong to them.
Walker told police that his neighbors were going back on their word: Lesser and Sandmann, who bought their parcel from the Walker family in 2010, had previously told the family in an email that Walker would still be allowed to “cultivate the Christmas trees,” according to police records.
But, hours before his arrest, Lesser emailed the Walker family and said they were planning to keep the Christmas trees — which Walker had planted years ago when his family owned much of the land along Sanborn Road — to help their children launch a small business.
Plainfield Police Chief Paul Roberts said that regardless of any previous assurances, Lesser and Sandmann had a legal right to keep Walker off their land.
“He was arrested for the fact that the property owner communicated to him to leave that day, and he refused to do so,” Roberts said in an interview. “She told him to stop and told him to leave and he didn’t. She owns the property. He considers the trees his.”
Walker and his attorney, George Ostler of Norwich, declined to comment, citing the ongoing criminal case.
Lesser and Sandmann could not be reached for comment.
An affidavit filed by Plainfield Police Officer Matthew Foss gives the following account.
Foss arrived at Lesser and Sandmann’s home at 1:15 p.m. on Nov. 25 and saw Walker cutting down trees in their field. Foss told Walker to stop and that he had to leave the property, which Walker did. Walker told the officer that he had planted the Christmas trees 15 to 20 years ago and had cut them down the last two years without a problem.
Lesser had sent the email message to Walker’s family earlier in the day, saying she wanted to allow her children to run a small Christmas tree business. Lesser told police that she had repeatedly asked Walker to leave her property and stop cutting down the trees.
But Walker simply started the chain saw again, and continued cutting down trees. She then called police.
Foss told Walker he had to leave the property. He also made Walker return the trees that he had already taken away in his truck.
Walker complied, but told the officer that he would not be sending Lesser or Sandmann a Christmas card this year.
Mark Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3304.