A Bayou Bridge Pipeline marker is pictured on Andre Avenue Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Maurice, La.

ST. MARTINVILLE — A pipeline company is seeking to undermine a trio of property owners who have accused the oilmen of trespassing on their land; under cross-examination, the landowners have admitted they'd never actually been to the property until Sunday, that they don't maintain it, and they've never paid taxes on it.

After three exhausting days in state district court in St. Martin Parish, pipeline opponents and proponents were ready to hear the ruling on whether construction crews violated property rights, but the judge told them Thursday they'll have to wait a little bit longer as he considers their arguments.

The 162-mile long Bayou Bridge pipeline is designed to carry crude oil from Lake Charles to St. James. However, it passes through a certain property in St Martin Parish with nearly 700 heirs. Most appear to have given their blessing to the pipeline, but three have said they don't want to be complicit in the construction of Bayou Bridge and have sued the company, saying they never gave their permission and that construction crews trespassed on their land. The company responded by filing an eminent domain lawsuit.

Arguments in that suit came to an end Thursday with the testimony of the final witness: property owner Katherine Aaslestad.

"I didn't want to have any part in the degradation of the wetlands," she said. "It needs to be protected and it doesn't have a voice."

Aaslestad said she was outraged when she found out Bayou Bridge was building on her land. Company lawyers have said her claim is minuscule — if the land sold, she and the two others named in the suit would earn only $1.11, according to one of the company's expert witnesses.

In a brief cross-examination, attorney Tiffany Rauch pressed Aaslestad, who conceded that she'd never actually visited the property until last weekend and that she's never maintained it or paid taxes on it. The two other landowners in the dispute made similar statements on Wednesday.

But their attorney, Bill Quigley, said everyone is entitled to constitutional property rights.

"(Bayou Bridge) made a conscious decision. They knew it was illegal" to build on the land without permission or a judge's blessing, Quigley said.

Quigley wants the court to make an example of the company by hitting them with a big fine as a deterrent to future rights abuses.

However, he had to make his pitch to reporters outside the courthouse because Judge Keith Comeaux decided that instead of giving oral closing statements, the lawyers could send him written statements. Comeaux had previously indicated he'd rule from the bench, but on Thursday he said he'd take the weekend to consider both sides and compose a written decision.

 Bayou Bridge attorneys did not respond to a request Thursday for comment.

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