Protesters denounce sheriff's eviction of disabled war veteran

SEATTLE - Dozens of protesters gathered Monday outside the office of King County Sheriff John Urquhart to show their outrage over the eviction of a disabled Vietnam War veteran from the West Seattle home where he grew up and later lost in foreclosure.

The veteran, Byron Barton, and his wife and adult son were evicted from the home Friday on Urquhart's orders. Barton was then taken by ambulance to the Seattle VA Hospital because of his health condition. A crew also removed the Bartons' furniture and other belongings from the home.

Urquhart said after Friday's eviction, "There are no winners in this situation." He says the new lawful owner of the home, Triangle Properties Development, has been the "victim of bureaucratic inaction" and he "won't let politics ride roughshod over the rule of law."

Urquhart also said that conditions inside the home were "dangerously unsanitary."

Now Barton's supporters are taking to the street to protest the sheriff's actions. They marched outside Urquhart's office Monday with signs and loudspeakers denouncing the forcible eviction.

Protesters say that Barton and his family were evicted illegally because the bank refused to renegotiate the terms of the mortgage. They also say that Triangle Properties Development refused to rent the home to Barton or any of his supporters.

The home, previously owned by Byron Barton's mother, had been in the family for more than 60 years. Byron Barton grew up there and was married there.

Court records show the Bartons mortgaged their home in 2007, then subsequently refinanced the loan and took out a home equity line of credit, with loans totaling over $650,000.

The Bartons stopped making payments, apparently in 2011, and they defaulted on those loans. The Bartons filed two lawsuits in federal court to stop foreclosure actions, but both were dismissed.

Triangle Properties Development purchased the home at an auction earlier this year.

After the trustee's sale of the property, the Bartons filed another lawsuit in state court, asking to void the foreclosure and for damages of $4.8 million and other miscellaneous amounts. That case is pending with a 2015 trial date expected.