Court records in McCarty case probe cabin ownership

Oct. 10—Court filings last week in the criminal case against David McCarty for aggravated theft, trespassing and criminal mischief include details about the ownership history of the Pine Creek cabin McCarty is accused of breaking into.

James and Sharen Sanders are the legal owners of the 425-square-foot cabin, which is on the north side of the Pine Creek Road in the Elkhorn Mountains northwest of Baker City.

According to records from the Baker County Assessor's Office, the cabin was built in 1920 and is part of the 5.15-acre parcel the Sanderses bought in 2002.

McCarty, who bought 1,560 acres in the Pine Creek Canyon in 2020, also bought, in October 2021, the parcel adjacent to, and west of, the Sanders property.

McCarty, 56, was arrested at his Ben Dier Lane home, near Pine Creek, on Sept. 26. He was released from the Baker County Jail after posting 10% of the $25,000 bail.

McCarty is scheduled to enter a plea on Nov. 8 at 1:45 p.m. in Baker County Circuit Court.

The Baker County grand jury issued a secret indictment on Sept. 22 charging McCarty with one count each of aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree criminal trespassing and second-degree theft.

In a brief filed Oct. 4, Baker County District Attorney Greg Baxter outlines the sequence of events that led to the indictment and McCarty's subsequent arrest.

Baxter filed the brief with Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matt Shirtcliff in support of Baxter's proposal that McCarty, as a condition of his release, not be allowed to come within 50 feet of the cabin.

The Sanderses bought the property, including the cabin, in December 2002. The couple have made annual property tax payments since then, according to assessor's office records.

In 2016, Brad Royal, who owned the parcel just west of the Sanders property before selling it to McCarty in October 2021, had an attorney send a letter to the couple claiming that an extension of the porch on the Sanders cabin had encroached on his property.

The property owners didn't settle the matter, according to Baxter's brief, but he contends that the episode demonstrates that Royal "knew that the cabin was on Sanders' property" but that an extension of the porch might have crossed the property boundary.

Baxter writes in his brief that the deed and other documents filed when McCarty bought the property from Royal last year have "no mention of a cabin, or any other structure," on the parcel that McCarty bought.

In the spring of 2022, James Sanders visited his cabin and found that the lock on the front door had been cut, according to Baxter's brief. Sanders also found a sign stating: "No Trespassing — McCarty."

Sanders called the Baker County Sheriff's Office, and Deputy Chad Mills investigated.

According to Baxter's brief, in a recorded phone call on June 3, McCarty told Mills that he "had the property surveyed and that the cabin is on his property."

According to the brief, McCarty told Mills he didn't recall what company had surveyed the property.

Three days later, on June 6, 2022, Mills met with McCarty and again asked about the surveyor. This time, according to Mills' report, McCarty declined to name the surveyor.

In his brief, Baxter writes that Baker County Assessor Kerry Savage and Shawn Berry, who works in the assessor's office, confirmed that the line between the Sanders and McCarty properties "has not been recently surveyed and that the property where the cabin is located (tax lot 600) is still owned by the Sanders."

McCarty's attorney, Kyra Rohner of Baker City, filed a memorandum on Oct. 5 contesting Baxter's request that McCarty be restricted from coming within 50 feet of the cabin.

In her memo, Rohner notes that the Sanderses, along with another couple who own property along Pine Creek, Tom and Betty Ann Lager, filed a civil suit against McCarty in July 2022. The two couples contend McCarty has deprived them of the use of their properties by installing a locked gate on the Pine Creek Road. The lawsuit also mentions that McCarty removed the lock on the Sanders cabin and replaced it with one of his own.

Rohner writes that McCarty "continues to assert his legal right to the cabin."

She wrote that James Sanders has acknowledged "he did not know where the property boundaries are between his lot and McCarty's."

Rohner cites, as evidence supporting McCarty's claim that the cabin is on his property, two maps, both overlaid on aerial photos, one from Anderson Perry and Associates and another from a cellphone mapping app. The two maps show the cabin, or at least most of it, being on McCarty's property.

Rohner also writes that "Mr. Sanders acted in a manner consistent with not having ownership rights in the cabin when he contacted law enforcement to retrieve his personal property from the cabin."

Baxter's brief has a different explanation, one that doesn't imply that the Sanderses aren't confident they own the cabin.

Baxter wrote that the couple "know that if they attempt to take back physical possession of the cabin on their own, then there will likely be a confrontation. Instead, they contacted law enforcement with the hope that the criminal justice system would be able to hold the Defendant accountable."