.

Trial Date Set for Man Who Shot His Olivenhain Neighbor

Michael Vilkin faces 25 years to life in prison

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
A trial has been rescheduled to June 2 for Michael Vilkin, who is charged with murder in the shooting of a filmmaker following a months-long dispute over foliage in an Olivenhain neighborhood.

Vilkin faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the March 28, 2013 death of John Upton, who gained fame for his crusade to rescue Romanian orphans living in nightmarish conditions during the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. 

Upton, 56, died on a dirt path in his yard in the 2900 block of Lone Jack Road. The two men had been in a running dispute, sheriff's Lt. James Bolwerk said.

At Vilkin's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney David Uyar said that Vilkin had a crew clearing brush in a vacant lot near the victim's home when the shooting occurred. 

The victim realized his car was in the way and asked the crew if they wanted him to move it, Uyar said. Upton walked up a dirt road toward Vilkin, he said. When Upton got within 10 feet of Vilkin, Vilkin fired twice, striking Upton in the abdomen and the head, the prosecutor alleged. Upton's girlfriend, who heard the gunshots from inside Upton's home, ran toward Uptown but was stopped by Vilkin, according to Uyar.

"When the girlfriend got close to the victim, who was lying in the roadway, the defendant pointed the weapon at her and told her not to come any closer,'' Uyar alleged last year. 

In a jailhouse interview, Vilkin, who owns a vacant lot next to Upton's property, told 10News he fired the shots in self-defense. 

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Emmett Moore May 28, 2014 at 02:51 PM
Another NRA member expressing his freedom.

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