'Phonehenge' builder guilty; jury isn't finished

AP News
Posted: Jun 08, 2011 3:47 AM
'Phonehenge' builder guilty; jury isn't finished

The man who built a colorful collection of bizarre structures called Phonehenge West in the Southern California desert has been convicted nine misdemeanors for building without a permit.

Jurors will consider five more counts against Alan Kimble Fahey, of Acton, on Wednesday. They asked to hear both sides reargue their cases Wednesday before they deliberate further.

Fahey, 59, faces seven years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Prosecutors declined to comment until the other charges are resolved.

Fahey, however, didn't hesitate to speak out. He complained that he had been railroaded and plans to appeal.

"I'm not stunned," he said. "I didn't get to have one witness. I couldn't show one exhibit. I wasn't allowed to have the jury come to my property."

Fahey began building Phonehenge West in 1984 on his 1.7-acre property in the sparsely populated Mojave Desert community of Acton, 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Over the years it has grown to include a barn where he and his family live, another structure that resembles a railroad car, and a tower with stained-glass windows that rises 70 feet. Several buildings are made of utility poles and steel beams and are connected by ramps and bridges.

Authorities say they are a safety hazard and must be torn down, but Fahey's supporters say the complex is a work of art.

Fahey, who has worked on Phonehenge West for nearly 30 years, ran afoul of county building inspectors almost from Day One.

During trial testimony, which lasted a week, authorities said they visited his property several times between 1986 and 1995 and again in 2006 and 2007. They said they issued citations and stop-work orders but that he ignored them.

Fahey said he initially tried to work with building inspectors but that they repeatedly demanded changes, lost his plans at one point and quit contacting him for several years while he continued to build.

"I made them look like monkeys," the colorful, outspoken builder said.