Leaders of OR standoff acquitted


Prosecutors argued the defendants, led by Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, had kept federal employees from their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Charges against co-defendant Peter Santilli were previously dismissed. Bundy was the leader of an armed takeover of the refuge.

"This is an extremely disturbing verdict for anyone who cares about America's public lands, the rights of native people and their heritage, and a political system that refuses to be bullied by violence and racism". It had a Wild West quality, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle. In addition, Sepulvado said, they hinted that if he didn't testify, the lawyers felt they might lose the case.

The other defendants were: Neil Wampler, Shawna Cox, Jeff Banta and David Fry.

"The case, if anything, was maybe a trespassing allegation", said Roger Roots of Livingston, a "standby counsel" for Bundy, who represented himself at the trial.

"When the jury here hears the whole story, I expect the same result", Hill told The Associated Press in Las Vegas.

Mr Bundy's own father - a Nevada rancher - had been involved in a protest over cattle-grazing rights in 2014.

The U.S. attorney for OR has defended the decision to bring charges against seven defendants who were acquitted for their part in the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge. "We strongly believe that this case needed to be brought before a Court, publicly tried, and decided by a jury", he said.

Seven former Malheur refuge occupiers have been found not guilty.

Upon hearing the verdicts, defense lawyer Marcus Mumford demanded his client Ammon Bundy be released. U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said Bundy couldn't leave because he's going to a Nevada jail to face charges there. Kenneth Medenbach, who was accused of stealing government property, was also found not guilty, while the jury was hung on charges against Ryan Bundy for allegedly stealing Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance cameras.

The armed occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge, which took place this past January, was an attempt by the Bundys and other right-wing critics of the government to strike back.

In a verdict that shocked even defense attorneys, on Thursday seven leaders of the armed 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in OR earlier this year were acquitted on all charges.

Jurors in the trial of those who took over a national wildlife refuge in OR have sent a note to the judge saying they've reached a consensus on all but one charge.

As we are now discovering, jury nullification didn't play a role in the verdict, but clear directions to the jury from the judge on how to deliberate over each charge did. The charges against the men had nothing to do with the underlying questions of the federal government locking off huge tracts of land from private use, instead focusing on the obstruction aspect of the protest. One juror was removed and replaced due to claims of bias. "It has been a long road", she told the jury afterward.

The jury was in its fourth day of deliberations when Brown stopped them Wednesday.

About 30 people remained outside the courthouse around 8:30 p.m., waving flags and listening to religious music blaring from a Jeep parked nearby. A total of 26 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers were arrested on conspiracy charges. "Instead, they come in with this freakish conspiracy theory".



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