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Guilty Verdict In Neighbor Dispute

POSTED October 16, 2012 8:56 p.m.

Oakdale resident and Modesto high school teacher Ralph Bradley Keith was found guilty of felony negligent discharging of a firearm and misdemeanor delaying and obstructing a peace officer on Monday, Oct 15 resulting from an October 2009 neighbor dispute.

The jury, which had started deliberating last Tuesday, Oct. 9, listened to testimony starting the last week of September when the trial began.

Keith, 55, has claimed Theodore Cummins, 44, who owns four acres of vacant land next to Keith on Orange Blossom Road, harassed and intimidated his family after he reported Cummins to authorities for filling in a wetland on his property without a permit. There is also an ongoing dispute regarding the fence line dividing the property.

During the 2009 dispute, Keith was accused of firing a pair of shots at Cummins after a heated verbal argument about the fence and removing posts. Cummins later notified the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office to respond.

Keith initially told deputies that he fired a gun, but in the opposite direction of Cummins. After additional questioning, Keith said he fired the gun to scare Cummins.

Keith, who was free on bail, was remanded into custody after the verdict was read. He will return for sentencing at a later date and could face up to four years in prison.

Keith has been a teacher for more than 25 years and has been on paid administrative leave from Modesto City Schools since Nov. 17, 2009.

With the felony conviction, the school district may now take disciplinary action.

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