Feud over yard continues despite deadly shooting - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Feud over yard continues despite deadly shooting

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local neighborhood feud continues, despite the fact that one man is dead and his suspected killer is behind bars.

Michael Vilkin has been in custody since March 28 when he admittedly shot and killed his neighbor, well-known filmmaker John Upton. Vilkin maintains it was an act of self defense although no other weapon but his was found at his Olivenhain property where the shooting happened.

Prior to the shooting the two had been feuding over trees on Vilkin's vacant property on Lone Jack Road that shared a border with the house Upton was renting.

Vilkin wanted to cut the trees down but he felt Upton was bullying him for a year to get him not to do it. Now in a letter from jail, Michael Vilkin says his wife took the controversial landscaping into her own hands over the summer.

"My wife has cut all the bushes and trees on the road. She demolished the cement wall and she made a dirt road," he said.

Vilkin and his wife Tamara say that the shrubbery in question has always been theirs to worry about. Tamara is now trying to sell the property.

"We bought the property with the bushes, the trees, and the wall. It was our wall and my wife demolished it," he said.

In response, the owner of the house Upton rented filed a lawsuit seeking at least $10,000 and a restraining order against the Vilkins.

The lawsuit reads in part, "Vilkin is constructing an access road over and across the fence barricade in violation of the specific condition."

Owner John Bonanno says Vilkin is still finding ways to break a city code.

"Despite being incarcerated. Vilkin has and is directing construction crews to demolish all landscaping on the easement and is dumping dirt and continuing to grade the area all of which is causing substantial damage to plaintiff," his lawyer said.

Tamara Vilkin tells News 8 she has maps proving the area in dispute is on their property.

"I don't know what kind of truth they have, but my truth... this is my land. I have documents and maps to prove it," she said.

The lawsuit alleges Tamara's husband is masterminding the construction from behind bars, but Tamara claims she's doing it on her own, for two specific reasons: the road needs more access space for fire crews, and she needs to get the property ready to sell in hopes of paying for her husband's defense.

"He feels powerless because he can not help me from over there. He is trying, but I have to fight all the fights on my own," she said.

Michael Vilkin will have to appear in court for his preliminary hearing on Monday.

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