A Montgomery Country farmer who maintained he was protecting his cornfield by firing a 20-guage shotgun at two motorcyclists - wounding both - was acquitted of assault charges yesterday by a County District Court judge.
Ivan John, 46, told a reporter following the acquittal that the May 9 shooting incident came after four years of frustration at young motorcyclists who use the Upper Montgomery County landscape as their playground. He said he has lost $2,000 worth of crops and more in time and labor repairing damage the vehicles caused at his cornfield in Redland.
But Jordan never got the opportunity to testify at his trial, which ended when Judge L. Leonard Ruben ruled that the statement Jordan gave police admitting the shootings was inadmissable as evidence because police had failed to respond quickly enough to Jordan's request for a lawyer.
Without the statement, the prosecution couldn't obtain a conviction because the motorcyclists, Jeffrey Layer, 19, and Mike Aswall, 21, both of Derwood, were unable to identify the person who wonded them.
Thus, Jordan won a round in what his attorney, Thomas Heeny, called "the classic confrontation between the farmer and the suburbanite."
Aswall, who was hit by as many as 48 lead pellets in his left side, back and ear, was bitter. "I think it's dumb," he said. Jordan "actually told the police he did it, and he gets off."
Aswall and Layer were treated at Montgomery General Hospital following the shooting and were released the same day.
Both testified they never rode into Jordan's cornfield and that they were shot without warning. Aswall, who took the stand Wednesday, told the judge he had ridden in the vicinity of Jordan's arm, a 16-acre tract, for about four years.
On May 9, he testified, he and Layer were riding their 125-cc. machines up and down a small hill known as "the jump," 15 feet from Jordan's field, when they were assaulted by four or five shotgun blasts.
Heen contended that his client fired a warning shot and resorted to more force when the cyclist returned a half hour later to ride on the land he leases from Montgomery County Board of Education. Heeny called it "reasonably force" in defense of property.
Jordan said after his acquittal: "I knew I couldn't hurt them from the distance I shot at them. Just sting 'em.
"I still think I'm right. How else can you get through to these guys? . . . Youn can't talk to 'em. And you can't catch 'em," he said.
Jordan had become something of a celebrity among others farmers, some of whom volunteered to testify in his behalf.
One farmer, Radie Evans, said he was overjoyed at the acquittal. He said he came to the courthouse intending to testify without being asked. "Ivan Jordan was 100 percent right," he declared. "I've had hundreds of people that I've talked to that have had the same problem."
Layer's mother said, "it's pretty hard for a 19-year-old to get shot in the back and then see the guy to scotfree. You tell him right will win out - but id didn't."
Aswall's father, Herbert Aswall, said he has hired an attorney to file a civil damage suit against Jordan.
"If my son were turned a little more" at the time of the shooting, "he could have been blinded. He was lucky," said Aswall "but, on the other hand, Mr. Jordan is even luckier . . . He was guilty as sin, there's no doubt about that."