Rutter: “They’ll be ramifications, you can’t do this to me”

Published on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Recently released court documents in the case of a Whatcom County man accused of assaulting the Whatcom County assessor have revealed new details about the incident.

Lincoln Rutter, 55, has been charged with intimidating a public servant and fourth-degree assault after he allegedly grabbed county assessor Keith Willnauer by his tie and pulled him off his feet across the front desk in the assessor’s office on June 1. Rutter owns a home in the Birch Point area, just north of Birch Bay. (Click here to read my last story on this case)

Court documents filed on June 7 reveal more specifics on what Rutter was looking for when he came to the assessor’s office the morning of June 1. In the affidavit of probable cause for the case, chief Whatcom County criminal deputy prosecuting attorney Mac Setter wrote that Rutter disagreed with Willnauer’s decision, as county assessor, to allow some land near Rutter’s property to remain in tax exempt status. From the affidavit filed last week:

"The defendant [Rutter] disagreed with this and said Willnauer was wrong. Willnauer explained that certain portions of the parceled land involved had been changed from a tax exempt to a non-exempt status. The defendant demanded proof of that immediately. Willnauer said that he had provided that information to him previously. The defendant denied this and continued to demand proof. Willnauer said this would take some time. The defendant at this point became enraged and reached across the counter grabbing Willnauer’s necktie as described above. The defendant continued to yell threats at Willnauer which was [sic] variously reported by witnesses as ‘do you think you can do this to me, I’ll show you’; 'there’ll be ramifications, you can’t do this to me’; [and] 'if you don’t give it to me, there will be ramifications.’"

(See the entire affidavit of probable cause posted below)

Setter wrote that the 6-foot-4-inch, 245-pound Rutter used both of his hands top grab Willnauer’s necktie and tightened it to the point of obstructing Willnauer’s breathing. After about 10 seconds, Rutter released Willnauer, leaving Willnauer’s shirt torn in the collar area.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the assessor's office at about 11:11 the morning of June 1 and arrested Rutter. Rutter was booked into the Whatcom County jail and later released on bond.

Rutter’s fit-for-trial hearing has been set for August 15, while the jury trial has been set for August 27. Bellingham attorney Jeffrey Lustick, who will be representing Rutter, has asked the Whatcom County prosecuting attorney to release a wide swath of documents, recordings, reports, statements and witness lists to the defense before the jury trial gets underway.

Lustick was also the defense attorney in the 2011 case of Wayne Groen, the Lynden man convicted of incapacitating the pilot of a Customs and Border Protection helicopter by shining a high-powered flashlight at the helicopter at night.

Lincoln L. Rutter Affidavit of Probable Cause



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