Judge makes Aposhian stalking injunction permanent
After a months-long legal battle between Utah's foremost gun advocate and his ex-wife's new husband, a judge issued a ruling Tuesday meant to keep the peace between the two men, who share the same neighborhood, church, friends and acquaintances.
He ordered them to stay away from each other.
Gun lobbyist Clark Aposhian stalked and frightened his ex-wife's husband, Ronald Meyer, at least twice in the last three years, 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen ruled Tuesday.
The judge issued a permanent stalking injunction against Aposhian that bars him from any future interaction with Meyer.
If Aposhian ever violates this order, which asks that he come no closer than 150 feet of Meyer, he runs the risk of further punishment, including criminal charges and jail time.
Aposhian, who also faces domestic violence charges in Holladay's justice court and a petition for a protective order by his ex-wife in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court, intends to appeal the decision, which his lawyers called a "troubling" attack on his rights as a parent and a divorcee.
"This nonsensical application of the stalking statute and lowering of the bar to make stalking essentially anything that causes another person to have hurt feelings only makes it harder for honest victims of domestic violence to get the protection they need," Aposhian's attorney, Morgan Philpot, said in a written statement.
This, Meyer's attorney said, is unsurprising.
If the stalking ruling stands, it could weigh heavily on the domestic violence case in Holladay in which Aposhian is charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, domestic violence in the presence of a child and threat of violence.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
"The problem is the facts don't change," Meyer's attorney Mitch Olsen told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We're confident that our case will stand in any future proceedings."
Tuesday's ruling was a partial victory for Olsen, who had also asked the judge to permanently ban Aposhian from accessing his arsenal of an estimated 300 weapons. The attorney argued that Aposhian's ex-wife, Natalie Meyer, and the couple's 11-year-old daughter were afraid of him and had suffered trauma that would only worsen should he be allowed to retrieve his weapons.
But Christiansen ruled Aposhian's lawful access to his weapons would not endanger the Meyer family and that "the fact that [Aposhian] carries a firearm does not lead this court to believe that he will inevitably use the firearm."
By denying Meyer's request to keep Aposhian away from his guns, Philpot said the court "largely vindicated" his client. But he questioned the judge's logic in declaring Aposhian no "threat or danger to anyone" while still issuing the stalking injunction.
The ruling moves Aposhian a step closer to eventually getting his guns back, though that will ultimately depend on how the two other cases against him are resolved.
Christiansen ruled that Aposhian committed two acts of stalking since 2010.
The first, on May 10, 2010, occurred about 12:30 a.m. outside Aposhian's own home. According to testimony, Meyer left Aposhain's ex-wife's house late that night and saw a jogger dressed in all black crossing the street. He stopped at a crosswalk to let the man pass.
But instead of crossing the street, the judge ruled, the jogger ran up to the car and shined a bright flashlight into the car while holding his hand behind his back "as if he had a weapon."
The jogger was eventually revealed to be Aposhian, who later "admitted he had his hand on his handgun" while he confronted Meyer, according to court documents. Meyer did not call police following that incident. Instead, Aposhian filed a report saying that he had been out working on his sprinklers when Meyer confronted him.
The most recent confrontation between the two happened on Memorial Day, the events of which led to the domestic violence charges against Aposhian.
Aposhian is accused of driving a 2.5-ton military vehicle onto his ex-wife's driveway and threatening to run over Meyer's car. Aposhian has insisted he only used the driveway to make a U-turn that day and later received a hostile phone call from Meyer accusing him of damaging the property.
Later Aposhian returned to the Meyer home. Philpot said it was to survey the alleged damage, not to cause problems. But Meyer said Aposhian had threatened to "bury" and "end" him, which he interpreted as a death threat.
Officers who arrested Aposhian testified that he was armed, with a gun and knife, and agitated during the course of his arrest. It was this testimony that, ultimately, swayed the judge to make the stalking injunction permanent.
Aposhian is due back in Holladay Justice Court on Wednesday for a pretrial conference in the domestic-violence case.
The petition for an order of protection from Aposhian by his ex-wife has been on hold pending the outcome of the stalking case. A hearing has been set for early next month.
"Now that the court has largely vindicated Mr. Aposhian," Philpot wrote, "he will be focused on repairing the damage done to his family and his relationship with is minor daughter."