ByFebruary 03, 2017 at 1:35 PM
Four of the seven remaining Oregon standoff defendants who were set to go to trial on Feb. 14 have decided to accept negotiated deals, and change their pleas during hearings in federal court on Monday.
Sean Anderson and his wife Sandra Anderson, who were among the last four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Dylan Anderson and Darryl Thorn are expected to enter pleas to a single trespass charge, a misdemeanor, and have the remaining felony and misdemeanor charges dismissed.
They're expected to face one year of bench probation, under the plea agreements.
Dylan Anderson, of Provo, Utah, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown at 8:30 a.m. Monday for a change of plea hearing.
Sean and Sandra Anderson, of Riggins, Idaho, will appear together before the judge at noon.
Thorn, of Marysville, Washington, has a 12:30 p.m. hearing scheduled.
The pleas are scheduled just a week before trial was set to begin for the defendants. Federal prosecutors added misdemeanor charges, including trespass and tampering with vehicles and equipment, against many of the seven remaining defendants after a jury last fall acquitted Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five other defendants of all felony charges following a five-week trial.
A federal grand jury last year had indicted 26 on felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal employees from doing their work at the refuge through intimidation, threats or force, and possession of firearms in a federal facility stemming from the 41-day occupation of the federal wildlife sanctuary in eastern Oregon . Charges were dropped against one person, Peter Santilli. Eleven others already have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. Seven were acquitted last fall.
And, with Monday's pleas, three defendants remain, headed for trial on Feb. 14. They are Jason Patrick, of Bonaire, Georgia, Duane Ehmer of Irrigon, and Jake Ryan, of Plains, Montana.
The judge has ruled that a jury will deliberate only on the felony charges, but the defendants don't have a right to a jury trial on the misdemeanor allegations. The judge, instead, will issue a verdict on the misdemeanor charges. That ruling may have been what persuaded some of these defendants to accept a plea on one misdemeanor charge and avoid any prison time, legal experts say.
Ehmer has filed a motion, asking Brown to be recused from presiding over the misdemeanor trial. That motion is pending.
-- Maxine Bernstein