Judge dismisses charges against oil line protester

FREDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- A judge on Monday dismissed charges against a Kalamazoo man who spent 10 hours inside an oil pipeline under construction in southern Michigan.

Calhoun County Circuit Judge James Kingsley threw out charges of trespassing and obstructing police against 35-year-old Christopher Wahmhoff for the June 24, 2013, protest at an Enbridge Inc. pipeline site in Fredonia Township, near Marshall.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Matt Smith said his office will file resisting police charges against Wahmhoff, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.

Wahmhoff's lawyer, John Royal, said the case should not have been sent to trial because sheriff's deputies did not order Wahmhoff to leave the pipe.

"There was never an unequivocal order that you come out forthwith," Royal said. "The evidence failed to establish that the officer ever gave the defendant a specific command to immediately come out of the pipe. He was not ordered out of the pipe at all. He only requested him to come out."

Kingsley agreed in January and upheld his earlier finding Monday.

The protest was part of an effort to halt the Calgary, Alberta-based company from building a new line. The site is near where an Enbridge line ruptured in 2010, spilling 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River system and causing persisting pollution problems.

The line runs from Sarnia, Ontario, to Griffith, Ind.

Published: Wed, Feb 26, 2014