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Resident of Polygamous Community Arrested

Resident of Polygamous Community Arrested

Posted - Sep. 9, 2004 at 7:22 a.m.



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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- A man who successfully challenged a polygamous church's effort to evict him from his home has been arrested for trying to keep his brother out of the home.

Ross Chatwin has been trying to evict his brother Steven from the home where the brother has lived in an upstairs apartment.

Police officers serving the twin polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., arrested Ross Chatwin, 35, on Tuesday on felony trespass charges after he allegedly changed the locks on the apartment.

He was booked into a Utah jail and made an initial appearance in a Moccasin, Ariz., Justice Court on Wednesday. A judge set bail at $2,000 and scheduled a Sept. 17 preliminary hearing.

Ross Chatwin was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which owns much of the two communities , including the Colorado City property on which Ross Chatwin's home was built.

In May, an Arizona court ruled that Ross Chatwin has the right to retain the residence until he receives just compensation for his investments in the residence.

Ross Chatwin's effort to evict his brother already was set for a court hearing Friday in Kingman, Ariz.

Colorado City Police Chief Sam Roundy said Ross Chatwin was arrested when he was unable to produce the legal paperwork he claimed gave him the right to kick his brother's family out of the top portion of the house and refused to let his brother in.

"Ross said he had a court order; we asked to see it and he couldn't provide it. He told us to talk to his attorney," Roundy told the Deseret Morning News. "We told him to just give the key to his brother and to let it be resolved in court on Friday, but he refused. So we did our job and arrested him on a criminal trespassing charge."

Ross Chatwin's wife, Lori, said her husband has tried many times to talk his brother into moving out of the house, without success.

"Ross was given a life estate to live in this house, both upstairs and down, and Steve has just ignored him," she said.

Rod Parker, attorney for church, said Steven Chatwin is making the same argument against eviction that Ross Chatwin made against the church -- namely that he has investments in the residence.

"Steve upgraded the upstairs before he moved in. It was unfinished and Steve finished the work. Ross can't evict Steve without compensating him for the improvements he made to the upstairs; that would be an unjust enrichment to Ross," said Parker.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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