Second round of Malheur defendants face conspiracy charges

Federal prosecutors are moving ahead, despite the first trial’s acquittal.

 

Federal prosecutors decided Dec. 12 to move forward with conspiracy charges for the remaining seven Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation defendants, despite a surprising not-guilty verdict a separate jury reached for the first seven defendants, including Ryan and Ammon Bundy, in October.

Occupiers stand around a fire at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January.
Brooke Warren

The first seven faced charges for conspiracy, as well as varied charges for firearms in a federal facility and theft.  But the remaining defendants, who were set to go to trial Feb. 14, may be charged with additional misdemeanors like trespassing, tampering with vehicles and destruction of government property. This drew ire from the defense attorneys, who say it “defies logic” to be pursuing additional charges against the occupants who had less of a role, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Prosecutors also asked U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown to push the trial back 60 days in order let publicity from the first trial "dissipate" and ensure an unbiased jury, but no ruling has been made yet, according to the Oregonian. If approved, the second Malheur trial would begin in March in Portland, Oregon, after the February trial regarding the 2014 Bunkerville, Nevada standoff between Cliven Bundy, supporters and Bureau of Land Management employees. That trial, which will see the Bundy brothers back on the stand for their role in the 2014 standoff, will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Anna V. Smith is an editorial intern at High Country News. She tweets

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