Hawaiian authorities have removed Karen Mayfield from the lava tube she has been living in for three years, and say they will put her on trial May 31 for littering, illegal camping, and “disturbing a geological feature,” all misdemeanors. She has been told to vacate the tube while the case is pending.
Mayfield had furnished the tube with a table, stove and canopy bed. She said that she had lived in condos and houses for most of the 24 years she has lived in the state, but “over the years I have gotten closer and closer to the land,” until she was finally inside it. Her attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that his client had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the tube and so officers erred when they entered it without a search warrant. But the judge ruled this week that the tube was still public land to which everyone, including officers, had free access.
Mayfield’s attorney compared his client to John Muir or Henry David Thoreau. “During their time, a lot of people said they were kooky,” he noted.