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Wind farm foe convicted

Staff writer

An opponent of Expedition Wind Farm who fired shots as property surveyors worked on right-of-way in December 2019 was convicted Thursday of three counts of aggravated assault.

It took a jury less than two hours to consider testimony and find Amy Stutzman, 48, Peabody, guilty.

The surveyors testified they had been locating utilities, culverts, and other items that workers would need to be aware of before construction began.

One surveyor, Austin Smith, said he heard gunshots and looked at Stutzman, whom he didn’t recognize, and got into a truck with another surveyor.

“Don’t you think that’s kind of dangerous,” Smith said another surveyor asked Stutzman.

Her answer was that that it was “only target practice,” he said.

He found out her name was Amy when she yelled to “go on and call it in and tell them to come to Amy’s house,” he testified.

He also testified that the gun she was using kept malfunctioning and that he was afraid she would shoot him.

Stutzman’s lawyer, Carl Cornwell of Olathe, tried to persuade jurors that Stutzman’s shots were merely target practice.

She had earlier hired a different lawyer, Mark Schoenhofer of Wichita, but he withdrew from the case 10 months later.

Testimony went on all day Wednesday. Lawyers made closing arguments Thursday morning.

The six man, six woman jury began deliberation at 9:52 a.m. The verdict was announced at 11:52 a.m.

Stutzman is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 20.

Under state guidelines, she could be sentenced to between two years’ probation and five years, six months in prison for each charge, depending on any criminal history she has.

Stutzman had passionately opposed the development of the wind farm and was a plaintiff in three lawsuits filed against the county, the wind farm, and the planning and zoning commission.

Expedition Wind’s operations were purchased in June by Orsted, a multinational energy company based in Denmark.

The same day she was convicted, Stutzman reported that a brick was thrown through the screen of an open window at her home near Peabody.

Deputy Landis Goodman’s offense report said forced entry occurred and $200 worth of damage was done to the screen.

Sheriff Rob Craft said Stutzman had surveillance video footage of the incident but did not provide recordings to the deputy.

Goodman’s official report said the offense was reported at 12:52 p.m., he arrived at 2:30 p.m., the offense took place at 2:36 p.m., and he finished investigating at 2:40 p.m.

Craft said the times were not correct.

“We don’t know what time it occurred, sometime between 8 a.m. when she left the house and when she got home from court,” he said.

The offense report lists no indication of any relationship between Stutzman and any suspect.

Craft did not indicate whether deputies had any suspects in mind.

Last modified Oct. 6, 2021

 

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