Beetlejuice Plays Brooktrails

by Bruce McEwen, August 17, 2016

Sheriff’s Press Release, August 2, 2016 — On July 27, 2016 at approximately 12:50am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the Howard Memorial Hospital for an assault victim being treated in the Emergency Room. Upon arrival at the hospital, Deputies spoke with a 40 year-old male from Modesto who was visiting his family in the Brooktrails area. Deputies learned that the incident occurred at a residence in the 26000 block of Maize Drive in Willits. The assault occurred when the 40 year-old male entered a bedroom and saw Bryan Stencil, 32, of Willits, involved in an argument with a female at the location. The male subject attempted to intervene in the situation and was punched in the face by Stencil. The 40 year-old male had significant injuries to his face that required medical treatment at the hospital. Deputies searched the Brooktrails area for Stencil with negative results. On July 28, 2016 at approximately 12:50am, Deputies were called back to the residence on Maize Drive because Stencil had reportedly returned to the home. Deputies responded to the residence, contacted Stencil outside, and placed him under arrest for Battery with Serious Bodily Injury. Stencil was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

* * *

The victims, Matthew Dyer and his wife Angela of Modesto were right out of the movie Beetlejuice, every bit the strait-laced couple, the Maitlands, played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in the 1988 Tim Burton film. The perp, Bryan Stencil, looked just like Michael Keaton’s character, Beetlejuice — same spooky hair-do, black-and-white striped clothing, maniacal grin, the works.

Maitlands

Maitlands

Angela Dyer got bored with her life in Modesto, and even more bored with her husband, it seems. She wanted to live in a cute little model community, so where else  but Brooktrails northwest of Willits where cute seldom applies and beauty applies not at all until you get up in the hills some distance from the 101 corridor.

Mrs. Dyer was separated from Mr. Dyer. While he remained in Modesto, she bought a house Brooktrails and soon moved Beetlejuice in with her. Mr. Juice, however, didn’t work out and she called hubby for help.

Beetlejuice/BryanStencil

Beetlejuice/BryanStencil

On the stand Mrs. Dyer said she called Matthew Dyer to come and watch their two young daughters while she worked because she and Bryan Stencil, aka Beetlejuice, were having “disagreements.” She told Matthew something more explicit, though — that things were getting kind of weird and she was getting scared — “spooked,” was her term for her new relationship.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Norman specializes in domestic violence cases and has had witnesses recant on her before. In fact it’s a predictably common occurrence that prosecutor’s call “going sideways.”

Norman: “Didn’t you actually tell Matthew you were afraid?”

Dyer: “No! — No no, I was just a little worried, is all.”

Norman: “About Bryan?”

Dyer: “No, not about him. I was just worried about losing my job because of our disagreements?”

Norman: “Okay. Let’s move on. You were having ‘disagreements’ at home that were somehow threatening your stability at work, so you called your husband to come and help with your two girls. Have I got that right, so far?”

Dyer: “Yes, that’s right.”

Norman: “And he agreed — Matthew agreed to come up from Modesto and help?”

Dyer: “Yes, he loves his daughters.”

Norman: “But wasn’t there a problem?”

Dyer: “We were getting a divorce.”

Norman: “Were you and Bryan Stencil living together on July 26th?”

Dyer: “Yes, but he was staying with a friend that night.”

Norman: “Because you were afraid of him and asked him to leave?”

Dyer: “No! — It’s just that he was at a friend’s.”

Norman: “Where was Matthew sleeping?”

Dyer: “On the couch.”

Norman: “Where were the girls sleeping?”

Dyer: “With me, in my room.”

Norman: “When did Mr. Stencil show up?”

Dyer: “About midnight, or a little before.”

Norman: “How did he get in?”

Dyer: “He had his own key.”

(Midnight, and this guy shows up?)

Norman: “And…?”

Dyer: “He came in, and came in my room and woke me up and we went in the girl’s room so as not to wake them up, and we were talking and—”

Norman: “Didn’t you tell the deputies that you were arguing?”

Dyer: “We were just having some disagreements, bickering is all, and Bryan picked me up and, in the dark, he must’ve tripped on a toy or something and we fell down… Matt heard the crash and came running in — we were getting up and Matt started swinging and”—

(Right here Matt should get custody of the children and a gun.)

Norman: “Let me stop you right there. Did you tell the police that?”

Dyer: “Yes.”

Norman: “Then what happened — after Matthew started swinging at Bryan?”

Dyer: “Bryan swung back, after a couple of swings from Matt which missed, and hit him and knocked him down and broke his nose — It was all kind of a blur, but Bryan took off, and I took Matt to the emergency room.”

(Count the ways that Matt is total victim.)

Norman: “Who called law enforcement?”

Dyer: “I have no idea. I think the hospital did. They have to report these kinds of things, they told me.”

Norman: “Didn’t you ask the deputy for a restraining order against Bryan?”

Dyer: “No.—no, of course not. I mean, why would I?”

(Of course, Mrs. Dyer. Why would you? We totally get your reasoning.)

Norman: “You understand you are under oath, don’t you?”

Dyer: “… Uh, um… um-hum.”

Norman: “You asked for an emergency protective order, didn’t you?”

Dyer: “My boss recommended I get one, so it wouldn’t look bad on me at work.”

Norman: “So you asked the officer for one?”

Dyer: “Yes.”

Norman: “Did you talk to Mr. Stencil while he was in custody?”

Dyer: “Yes.”

Norman: “And didn’t he ask you to drop the charges, because he could get 10 years in prison for this?”

Dyer: “No!”

Norman: “And you’ve talked about getting back together with Mr. Stencil?”

Dyer: “Well, this situation has put kind of a bump in things.”

(Nothing that can’t be worked out, Mrs. Dyer. Guys like Stencil don’t come along very often.)

Mr. Stencil’s lawyer, Anthony Adams of the Office of the Public Defender: “Are you afraid of Mr. Stencil?”

Dyer: “—No.

Adams: “Did you feel like law enforcement was pressuring you into getting a restraining order?”

Dyer: “I felt like, yeah, it was a good idea. People — friends — said I should.”

Adams: “And your employer?”

Dyer: “Right.”

Adams: “But not law enforcement?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Adams: “Are you sure Matt swung first?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Adams: “A hundred percent sure?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Adams: “And Matt swung a couple of times?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Adams: “When Mr. Stencil picked you up, was that done aggressively?”

Dyer: “No. It was something he often did. He was just hugging me. He did it to get my attention, and said, Why are we fighting, I love you, and he tripped on something, a toy or something and we both fell down.”

(A midnight aerial hug. Pure romance!)

Adams: “How long was it before Matt came in?”

Dyer: “Maybe something like 30 seconds. Something like that.”

Adams: “Had Mr. Stencil ever assaulted you before?”

Dyer: “No.

Adams: “Are you confident you told Deputy Stolfi that Matthew swung first?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Adams: “Did Mr. Stencil have permission to be there?”

Dyer: “Yeah.”

Norman: “I thought you said you asked him to leave, to go stay at a friend’s?”

Dyer: “Well, yeah, but he still had his key.”

Norman: “You arrived at court today with Matthew — you didn’t by chance converse with him on the way, did you?”

Dyer: “—No. No, not at all.”

(Of course not.)

Norman: “You said he [Stencil] picked you up to get your attention — had you been ignoring him?”

Dyer: “—No. He was just saying, Hey, I love you. Why are we fighting?”

Norman: “He picked you up in the middle of an argument and you thought it was okay?”

Dyer: “Oh, yes, he does it all the time.”

(Bogie and Bacall.)

Norman: “Nothing further.”

Matthew Dyer was called: “Angela called me and asked me to come up to Willits because she’d broken up with her new boyfriend and was about to lose her job because it’s so chaotic, and she needed somebody to take care of the kids.”

Norman: “Do you remember telling law enforcement she was afraid of Bryan Stencil?”

Dyer: “Uh-uh. No, she said she was afraid of losing her job.”

Norman: “Did Mr. Stencil come in the house while you slept on the couch?”

Dyer: “Yes.”

Norman: “Do you remember telling law enforcement that Bryan wouldn’t give the house keys back when asked to do so?”

Dyer: “Uh, N-no, no… [a quaver in his voice] …she told him to go in the other room and she’d come in and talk to him; so they went in there and were arguing and Angela called him lame and told him to get out and he said he’d go sleep in the girl’s room — he didn’t have a place to stay, he said. I heard some scuffling, then a crash, so I went in. He was on top of her and shined a flashlight in my eyes so I was swinging blindly and missed, then he hit me and I went down.”

Norman: “You didn’t tell the officer that he came at you!”

Dyer: “N-n-no — no!”

(The Dyers were the most artless liars this reporter has ever seen take the stand. Hell, I’ve seen six-year-olds lie more expertly than these two!)

Norman: “Then what?”

Dyer: “We were both telling him to get out. My nose was broken and he took off; then we went to the hospital,”

Norman: “Did he have a flashlight in his hand when he hit you?”

Dyer: “I couldn’t tell.”

Norman: “Was he wearing gloves?

Dyer: “Yes, fingerless gloves.”

(Mandatory low-life evening dress.)

Norman: “You took only one swing?”

Dyer: “Yes.”

Norman: “Make contact?”

Dyer: “No.”

Norman: “Then what?”

Dyer: “He hit me and I went down.”

Norman: “Nothing further.”

Adams had no questions.

Deputy Hank Stolfi took the stand: “I was dispatched to Howard Hospital a little after midnight where I contacted Matthew Dyer, who had swollen red marks above his brow, on his cheek, and his nose. I asked him how he got these injuries and he said he was assaulted by Bryan Stencil at his wife’s home in Brooktrails.”

Norman: “How did he say he came to be in Willits in the first place?”

Stolfi: “He said his wife called him and asked him to come because she was — I believe the word he used was ‘spooked’ of Stencil, her boyfriend; and Mr. Dyer said he was definitely scared of him, too.”

Norman: “Did he say anything about how the assault occurred?”

Stolfi: “He said he went in the room after hearing a crash and saw Stencil on his wife, so he went at him and was hit.”

Norman: “Did you talk to Angela Dyer about what was going on with her and Bryan Stencil?”

Stolfi: “Later in the day, yes. She said he came to her work after the incident and she was scared, so I asked if she wanted a stay-away order and she said yes, she did.”

Norman: “Did Stencil have permission to come in the house?”

Stolfi: “She’d asked him to leave a few days prior to the incident.”

Norman: “Did she tell you Matthew swung at Stencil?”

Stolfi: “I don’t recall that.”

Norman: “Did you later contact Bryan Stencil?”

Stolfi: “I did. He said he was there, that he and Angela were having ‘issues,’ but she still allowed him to come back.”

Norman: “But when you talked to her, she said she’d asked him to leave?”

Stolfi: “That’s correct.”

Norman: “Did you search Mr. Stencil?”

Stolfi: “Officer Vasquez did.”

Norman: “I’m showing what has been marked as People’s exhibit number One. Do you recognize that?”

Stolfi: “Yes, it’s an evidence envelope, sealed by me.”

Norman: “Would you open it, please?

(Stolfi opens it and takes out a glove.)

Norman: “What is that?”

Stolfi: “It’s an armored glove; it has this composite plastic armoring on the knuckles, with one which appears to be torn, here, on the middle knuckle.”

Norman: “What are these armored gloves used for?”

Stolfi: “Primarily for fighting.”

Norman: “And this was in Mr. Stencil’s pack?”

Stolfi: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Norman: “Nothing further.

Judge David Nelson called a recess for lunch, and by the time I got back the case was over, so I asked Ms. Norman the outcome.

Norman: “Judge Nelson split the baby, so to speak. He held Stencil to answer on the assault, but dropped it to a misdemeanor battery because of the reluctance of the Dyers to press the charges.”

It all reminded me of Beetlejuice coaching the Maitlands on how to get him out of their house. Maybe if the Dyers said ’Stencil’ three times real fast he’d disappear. Whatever else happens, here’s hoping Mrs. Dyer changes the locks.

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