None of the four defendants in the second trial of Oregon refuge occupiers are gung-ho to take the witness stand – a big change from the first trial.
That decision has helped moved this trial along at a much faster clip. Closing arguments are tentatively set for Tuesday, the ninth day of trial, so the case could go to the jury early this week.
In the first case, four of the seven defendants took the stand to explain to jurors themselves why they went to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter.
What was the meaning of occupier Brand Thornton’s blowing of the shofar when he accompanied the first convoy of men who seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, 2016?
One prosecution witness said the sounding of the ram’s horn meant an “all clear” signal after protesters went building to building, armed with rifles, to check if anybody was on the federal property. Another prosecution witness called it a symbol of battle.
Prosecutors can play an excerpt from an Oregon Public Broadcasting interview with Ryan Bundy for jurors in the second Oregon standoff trial, but it won’t include reporter John Sepulvado’s commentary, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown made the decision over the strong objections of defense lawyers.
Iva Henderson, at age 59, had never been on an airplane before she was subpoenaed to testify in federal court in Portland this week.
Henderson and her husband, Rich Henderson, live a small rural community near Riggins, Idaho, population 600. Both had spent two nights at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter. They said they’d gone there to protest what they viewed as the unjust federal prosecution of two Harney County ranchers for setting fire to public land.
Montana resident Roxsanna Ryan, who home schooled her 12 children, said she wasn’t surprised when her middle child Jake Ryan, 28, chose to stay at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter when he accompanied his father and brothers on a drive from their home to deliver community-donated goods to the occupiers in Oregon.
She said the next time she heard from Jake Ryan was the night of Jan. 26, 2016, in a “goodbye” call, his voice shaking and in fear following the police fatal shooting of occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.
Defense lawyers have urged a federal judge to issue an arrest warrant for William R. Kullman, a man they suspect was an FBI informant who played a role in security and defense training during the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Attorney Jesse Merrithew said Kullman, who lives in northern Washington, was served last month with a subpoena to testify in the second Oregon standoff trial but failed to show for court. The federal government also has indicated it won’t assist in compelling Kullman’s testimony, Merrithew noted in a court filing.
Prosecutors spent twice as long cross-examining Ammon Bundy when he returned to a Portland courtroom Tuesday compared to last fall during his own trial that ended with his acquittal on conspiracy and weapons charges.
This time, Bundy was the first witness for the defense of four men who say they were inspired by his videos and calls to take a “hard stand in Burns” and now face trial themselves in the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
As the federal government rested its case Tuesday morning after just over five days of testimony in the second Oregon standoff trial, it was clear prosecutors had listened to Juror 4 from the first trial.
From opening statements through their questioning of witnesses, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey Barrow and Ethan Knight repeatedly focused on trying to show how the actions of the four defendants now on trial revealed their intent to prevent federal wildlife refuge workers from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force.
Ammon Bundy called a clandestine meeting around the dining room of their host’s home in Burns on Dec. 29, 2015, and directed the six other men there to leave their cellphones and laptops behind in a separate room.
Bundy then discussed his idea of taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, said occupier Blaine Cooper, called as a government witness on the fifth day of the second Oregon standoff trial.
Cooper’s testimony about the dining-room sit-down marked the first time anyone in court has referenced a late December meeting between Bundy and the other men about seizing the refuge before the Jan. 2, 2016, occupation.
Under the cover of darkness, about 22 FBI agents surreptitiously walked onto the Mahleur National Wildlife Refuge, entering from the east, three days after the arrests of the occupation leaders and the fatal police shooting of occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, according to testimony Monday.
“We went in on Jan. 29 (2016) and remained there at least a 24-hour period,” FBI agent Kevin Murray testified for the government on the fifth day of the second Oregon standoff trial.
As has been reported by Maxine Bernstein’s Tweets (my primary source for keeping track of the doings in the Portland Group 2 trial), I have finally been served with the Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 1901). I say “finally” since the first notice had come from Maxine. Next, I received a FedEx delivery. However, that doesn’t satisfy initial service. So, On Wednesday, February 22, I received a call from my favorite FBI personality. SA Matthew Catalano. He is good natured, diligent in his duties, and appears to have not taken a side in this ongoing battle between Judge Anna J. Brown and the United States’ chief Shyster, Billy J. Williams, on the one side, and yours truly on the other. I had already made plans for Thursday, and he seemed quite busy with other matters, so we agreed to meet on Friday. When we met, he handed me some paperwork, specifically the Order to Show Cause.
A remarkable video shot in the darkened bunkhouse kitchen of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge reveals the chaos and anger that erupted after the arrests of occupation leaders and the fatal shooting of the armed takeover’s spokesman.
Defendant Jason Patrick, who went by the code name “Clooney,” radioed to security teams to come to the bunkhouse for a vote the night of Jan. 26, 2016. He stood in the kitchen in the middle of a group gathered around him, wearing his trademark blue blazer and holding a lit cigarette in his hand.
An FBI agent on Thursday showed jurors a slew of photos and messages that he found on defendant Darryl Thorn’s Facebook page, including Thorn’s stated plan of “sneaking back ” onto the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a year ago.
Thorn, a member of Washington’s 3 percent militia, proclaimed in a Feb. 4, 2016, private Facebook message: “I won’t let my brothers and sisters die by themselves.”
He talked of his plan to go back to the refuge, saying, “I have a good lay out of the land.”
Over the objection of a prosecutor, a defense lawyer Wednesday asked Oregon’s recently retired top FBI agent about his reaction to the jury verdict from the first trial stemming from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
“You do not believe the participants that went to trial in the fall of 2016 were held accountable, that’s correct?” asked Michele Kohler, representing defendant Duane Ehmer.
A lawyer for former Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter John Sepulvado has filed a motion to quash the government’s subpoena that calls on Sepulvado to testify and authenticate his January 2016 recorded interview of Ryan Bundy during the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Attorney Duane A. Bosworth, representing Oregon Public Broadcasting and Sepulvado, argues that the compelled testimony will “chill future sources, even nonconfidential ones” for Sepulvado and all other OPB reporters.
FBI agents kept away from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for weeks based on what they knew about occupation leader Ammon Bundy and his armed supporters and Bundy’s pledge to take a “hard stand” and turn the property into a base for patriots for years, according to testimony Tuesday from the man who led the police response.
“For us to go in there, we believe would provoke a confrontation,” said Greg Bretzing, who just retired as Oregon’s FBI special agent in charge.
Outpost of Freedom
February 21, 2017
In Freedom of the Press #6 – “Tilting at Windmills” – Redux, I address the jurisdictional issue that the government addressed in their Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Government’s Motion For an Order to Show Cause, of February 7, 2017. Due to the length of the Supplement, and the length of #6, I chose to address two remaining issues in a subsequent post. Those two issues, Prior Restraint and Qualified Press, will be addressed in that order.
A federal prosecutor Tuesday told jurors they won’t hear evidence of a formal meeting, written contract or verbal agreement between the defendants on trial, charged with conspiring to impede federal employees from carrying out their work at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Instead, they’ll be able to infer through the words and actions of defendants Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer, Jake Ryan and Darryl Thorn, that they used the federal property as their own last winter as a “platform for their cause,” essentially keeping staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or Bureau of Land Management from coming to work.
A jury of seven women and five men, plus four alternates, will return to court next week for opening statements in the trial of four remaining defendants in the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys picked them after U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown spent a day and a half of questioning about 58 prospective jurors out of an original pool of 1,000 people from across the state.
The judge referred to the jurors only by number in court and rarely identified the person’s hometown or type of work.
Most of the jurors are from outside of Multnomah County and come from outlying areas in western Oregon, including coastal communities, a defense lawyer said. A couple are from Multnomah County and at least one from central Oregon.
Let’s review this whole situation from the beginning. After all, it has taken a month and a half to get to this point, so perhaps a refresher is in order.
On January 5, 2017, I was hand served a “Cease and Desist Letter” by an FBI agent. Since the service was disclosed on Facebook, I wrote a “Statement with regard to the Freedom of the Press“, on January 6. That was followed with a series entitled “Freedom of the Press“, beginning on January 7 entitled Freedom of the Press #1 – Meeting with the FBI. The following day, January 8, I explained the Cease and Desist Letter with Freedom of the Press #2 – Cease and Desist.
These events were preceded by a number of articles that I had written in the “Burns Chronicles” series. In those articles, I exposed FBI informants associated with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns, Oregon. The information used to identify and expose the informants was derived from some Discovery documents I had obtained.
Jake is a total country boy .
And unless you have lived in the mountains of Montana , grown your own food, milked goats and cows , and cut your own fire wood to survive, you may just not understand what real country life is like .
He served in the military. He loves his country. He wears his American heritage with pride . He stands behind a constitution that he swore to uphold.
And his daughter is is pride and joy.
He’s a welder and a blacksmith.
He works for himself doing odd jobs that he finds, from mechanic work on vehicles, to welding and as a hobby black smithing, making art out of horseshoes.
Lady liberty become a mascot for the Refuge that the world will never forget.
Brandon Curtiss, sued after he failed to turn over rents and other payments on properties he managed for clients, was arrested last month in Payette County after a confrontation with a woman serving him papers for an Ada County lawsuit.
The incident happened Aug. 9 when the process server for Tri County Process Serving of Boise went to a Fruitland home rented by Curtiss in the 400 block of N.W. 9th St. The woman said she knocked on the front door. Moments later, Curtiss came from around the back side of the house and confronted her.
“Get the (expletive) off my property. I have a gun and I’m going to use it,” the woman said Curtiss told her, according to an incident report filed by Officer Brian Wallace of the Fruitland Police Department. “I’m going to (expletive) shoot you if you don’t get off my (expletive) property.”
Defense lawyers for the four Oregon standoff defendants set for trial this week want Pete Santilli, who awaits prosecution in Nevada, to be flown to Oregon to testify on their behalf and to impeach another co-defendant, Blaine Cooper, now expected to be a government witness.
Jury selection starts Tuesday morning for the remaining four defendants accused of federal conspiracy, weapons and depredation of government property charges stemming from the 41-day seizure of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter.