Soldier: No grudge against developer

Soldier: No grudge against developer »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- While deployed in Kuwait, Lt. Burke Jensen found himself in the middle of a legal battle back home.

A developer who owns Jensen's subdivision came close to suing Jensen for not landscaping his yard. Jensen was overseas. His wife was pregnant.

Because Jensen was unable to do his own yard work, he paid someone else thousands of dollars for the job.

"We had to vacate the home in March, which is before the planting season," he said. "We hired a landscaper whom I tried to supervise while being away and that didn't go so well. He pretty much took the money and ran."

The result, according to developer Chick Edwards, was a yard that wasn't up to the standards of the homeowners association.

After receiving complaints from Jensen's neighbors, Edwards sent the Jensen family a letter telling him to take care of his yard immediately or face legal action. At the time he did not know Jensen was serving in Kuwait, Edwards later said. But when the developer did learn about Jensen's situation, he said he would not back down from taking legal action.

A Tri City-area newspaper first reported the story, quoting Edwards as saying of Jensen, "I don't give a (expletive) where his is or what his problem is. This clown gets to do what he wants and I'm mad as hell."

The story attracted regional, then national attention from CNN, Inside Edition and countless radio talk shows.

During an interview with CNN, Jensen explained the lawsuit came just as he got orders to deploy to Kuwait. His wife, he said, was out of town with family in anticipation of her due date.

"My wife and I are very proud to be in the military and defending everyone's right to free speech. You know, we were so very sorry to hear that he made that he made those comments," Jensen said.

When asked about the clown comment later, Edwards said his words had been misconstrued.

"I called the reporter a clown," he said. "The whole article is false."

But during a radio interview on the Bob Rivers Show, Edwards, commenting on the initial interview, said he had had "a bad hair day," and probably could have handled it better.

John Trumbo, the Tri-City Herald reporter who wrote the original article, said Edwards is the one who is making false statements. Trumbo said the story in the Herald speaks for itself; he stands by it and so does his executive editor.

Meantime, Edwards maintains the report has turned him into "public enemy number one."

"There have been a lot of death threats and stuff like that, and it's gone as far is it's going to go," he said.

Jensen's yard has been brought up to the homeowners association's standards, thanks to neighbors who didn't want to see one of their own get kicked of the community out while serving their country.

It took 65 volunteers only a couple of hours to roll out 18,000 square feet of lawn at the home of the reservist.

"We just want to thank everyone," Jensen said. "We are completely overwhelmed and it's taken a great worry off of our concerns."

"It's just a no-brainer to come out and help when they need our service, because the sacrifices they make are so much greater than any we make here," said Timothy Montgomery, who organized the project.

Jensen's lawyer, Tony DeAlicante, said his client doesn't have any hard feelings towards Edwards and hopes the pair can get together, shake hands and let bygones be bygones.