Prosecutors reflect on refuge takeover trials after Friday’s verdicts

Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said he was in constant communication with federal Justice officials in Washington, D.C. during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, through the development of the prosecution case and on charging decisions.

“Anytime there’s a case of national significance, we consult with main Justice,” Williams said.

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Defendant’s medical complaint interrupts standoff trial

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A medical complaint by a defendant with a history of health problems briefly interrupted a trial Thursday in Las Vegas for six men accused of wielding guns during a 2014 armed standoff between followers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and federal agents.

An attorney for Gregory Burleson rose suddenly during testimony and told Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro that Burleson needed immediate attention.

Attorneys and spectators in the courtroom said Burleson became pale and his hands were shaking when the judge called a two-hour break.

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DML Takes Stand At Bundy Trial: “I feared being shot.”

Las Vegas, Nevada — Dennis Michael Lynch, known better as ‘DML’, took the stand today as a witness in the first of three trials set to take place in relation to the standoff between the Bundy family, their supporters, and the federal government.

Lynch was kept on the witness stand all day on Wednesday. He answered numerous questions from the U.S. attorney after the jury was shown a long list of the video clips DML captured during the event that took place in Bunkerville, NV on April, 12, 2014.

DML, who at the time was a regular guest on The Kelly File (Fox News Channel), was filming the events in Nevada for an upcoming segment to air on Megyn Kelly’s show.

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Documentarian Dennis Michael Lynch testifies during Bunkerville standoff trial

A media cameraman who tried, unsuccessfully, to mediate the Bunkerville standoff gave hours of testimony Wednesday while federal prosecutors played shaky, handheld footage that provided a more dynamic view of the protests than anything previously disclosed on dashcam recordings.

The government called Dennis Michael Lynch as a witness after they fought ferociously earlier in the week to keep the footage he captured out of court.

Defense attorneys Monday had tried to use some of the videos to rebut a federal agent’s testimony, and prosecutors’ decision to call Lynch reflected a strategic attempt to control the narrative as they continue to present their case against six men accused of conspiring with rancher Cliven Bundy.

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Lawyers vigorously challenge misdemeanor charges against refuge occupiers

Defense lawyers Wednesday vigorously challenged misdemeanor charges against four defendants accused in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as the judge prodded a prosecutor to make his case against each by citing specific evidence and exhibits.

The defense argued that the federal regulation involving trespass at a national wildlife refuge is vague, that defendants never received formal notice they were trespassing and that no evidence exists that the four saw trespassing signs on the property.

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Criminal conspirators or political protesters? Lawyers paint different portraits of refuge occupiers

Prosecutors urged jurors to use common sense and consider the “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” to find four defendants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter guilty of conspiring to prevent federal workers from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force.

“At its core, this case is about four defendants who went too far,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said Tuesday.

He reminded the jury that no formal agreement is necessary to prove the conspiracy charge.

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Refuge manager, fish biologist tell jurors how they felt scared, violated during occupation

The manager of the Malheur National Wildife Refuge and its former fish biologist returned to the witness stand Tuesday morning in the government’s rebuttal to testify about the fears they felt just before and during the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge manager Chad Karges, who was aware Ammon Bundy and followers were in the Burns area in late November and December 2015, said he placed loaded guns at every door of his home “just because of the threats I had seen” involving Bundy and his standoff with federal agents in Bunkerville, Nevada in 2014.

After Christmas 2015, Karges told his kids and grandkids not to venture into Burns.

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Tempers flare, nerves fray in trial against Bundy supporters

A downtown Las Vegas courtroom provided scenes as wild as a Western movie Monday when federal prosecutors and defense attorneys battled over nearly every piece of evidence presented in the trial against six of rancher Cliven Bundy’s supporters.

Defense attorneys tried to block a government witness from testifying. A prosecutor invoked an evidence rule that led even the judge to flip open a legal handbook. A juror made a wisecrack that caused one lawyer to raise concerns of potential bias.

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Defense calls last witnesses in second refuge takeover trial

Bruce “B.J.” Soper, a founding member of the Pacific Patriots Network, testified Monday that he heard Ammon Bundy propose taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a hard stand during a brief meeting in a Burns home on Dec. 29, 2015.

But in contrast to refuge occupier Blaine Cooper’s testimony for the government, Soper said no logistics were discussed. He said Jason Patrick, Jon Ritzheimer, Ryan Payne and others were present but they never talked about how Bundy planned to accomplish the takeover. There was no discussion about refuge employees and no final decision was made during the 10- to 15-minute meeting, Soper said.

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Case expected to go to jury this week in second Oregon standoff trial

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.

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Bunkerville standoff video captures agent conversations

Prosecutors trying the case against six of rancher Cliven Bundy’s supporters played hours of video footage this week that gave the public a peek into the minds of federal law enforcement officers as the 2014 confrontation with armed protesters unfolded in Bunkerville.

When Bureau of Land Management Agent Mark Brunk testified early in the week, prosecutors played dash cam footage that recorded him uttering an expletive, followed by, “You come find me and you’re gonna have hell to pay.”

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Gary Hunt – Freedom of the Press #11 Aiding, But Not Abetting

The government has persistently suggested that I have “aided and abetted” the defendants by exposing informants that were paid by the government to spy on the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during January 2016. That is only one of the elements that needs to exist before the Court can find me in contempt of court for non-compliance with the Order to remove all prohibited material from my website and any other website.

The other elements include whether I am subject to the Court’s Protective Order, and, if so, do I fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. Currently, the Court has an outstanding Order that I appear and show cause why I should not be held in contempt of court.

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Ryan Bundy asks judge to dismiss his charges in Bunkerville standoff case

Ryan Bundy, who previously accused federal authorities of violating the Constitution when they seized his father’s cattle, now claims he has been denied his right to a speedy trial.

In a motion filed late Wednesday, Bundy asks a federal judge to dismiss his 16-count indictment on threats, extortion and related charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff near his family ranch in Bunkerville. Prosecutors are trying the first of three groups of people charged in the case, and Bundy is in the second trial group.

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Judge dismisses juror for nodding off during Bunkerville standoff trial

A federal judge Thursday dismissed one of the jurors seated for the trial against six men accused of conspiring with rancher Cliven Bundy.

The woman, identified only as “juror 12,” was dismissed late Thursday after U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro noticed her falling asleep on several occasions during testimony. The jury includes four alternates, so the case will not be affected by the juror’s dismissal.

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Refuge occupier’s sounding of shofar becomes subject of disputed testimony

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.

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OPB broadcast interview with Ryan Bundy will be played for jurors, judge rules

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.

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Idaho woman issued federal citation for not standing for jury in refuge takeover trial

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.

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Court rules Hage family must pay $587K for grazing cattle on federal land in Nevada

CARSON CITY — A U.S. District Court judge has ordered a Nevada ranching family engaged in a long-running dispute with federal agencies to pay $587,000 for grazing cattle on BLM and Forest Service lands without permission.

The order dated Feb. 27 from Gloria Navarro, chief judge of the Las Vegas District Court, also requires the son of the late Wayne Hage to remove any livestock from federal lands within 30 days. Within 45 days the Hage has to file a statement of compliance with the order or face contempt of court.

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Refuge visitors, character witnesses testify for defense in refuge takeover trial

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.

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Defense seeks arrest warrant for suspected FBI informant to testify in refuge takeover case

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.

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BLM ranger testifies that he turned off body cam as Bunkerville standoff escalated

As the 2014 standoff in Bunkerville escalated and authorities started to fear a gunfight, Bureau of Land Management Ranger Patrick Apley turned off his body camera.

“I was mad,” Apley testified Tuesday in the trial against six men accused of conspiring with rancher Cliven Bundy to block federal authorities from seizing cattle. “I felt like we were going to be in a firefight, and I really didn’t want to record that.”

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Ammon Bundy returns to federal courtroom in Portland as a defense witness

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.

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Prosecutors changed strategy in second Oregon occupation trial

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.

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