In Portland, the second and last group of defendants in the Bundy Refuge case went to trial on February 14. Three of the defendants, Sean and Sandy Anderson and also Dylan Anderson took a plea bargain on the misdemeanor count of trespass and a $1000 fine. Darryl Thorne changed is mind about the plea and will go to trial with journalist/videographer Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer and Jake Ryan.
Jason Patrick’s attorney, Andrew Kohlmetz, was alarmed at the government’s choice of a jury consultant since he had multiple conversations with the same consultant in November and is trying to push for a change in venue. Ethan Knight, attorney for the prosecution, responded that Kohlmetz’s concerns were “groundless”. The fact that the government has resorted to hiring a jury consultant is a sign of the desperation of the government for a conviction. Maxine Bernstein reported in The Oregonian that Oregon prosecutors with 30 years experience can’t recall a prosecution team hiring an outside jury consultant in a federal criminal case in Oregon before this.
In addition to requesting Ammon and Ryan Bundy to be sent to Oregon to testify for the defense, Pete Santilli has also been requested. Charges against Santilli were dismissed from the Oregon case but he said he would stand on his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself if called by the first group. No word yet if he’s going to consent to testify for the group now being tried. Santilli is with the Tier 1 defendants in the Nevada case — Cliven Bundy, Ammon and Ryan and militia leader Ryan Payne.
Comrade Anna J. Brown, federal judge in the case, has told the defendants that they will be tried by the jury on the original charges but tried by herself alone on the misdemeanor counts. The defense argues they are entitled to a jury trial on all counts even the misdemeanors. What Brown is attempting to do is find them guilty of even one misdemeanor charge so she can sentence them for all charges in the event that the jury finds them not guilty. This outrageous practice is called Sentencing of Acquitted Conduct which allows the judge to ignore the jury’s decision and rope back in all the charges that they’ve been acquitted of at sentencing. Defendant Duane Ehmer has motioned for a different federal judge to preside over the non-jury part of the trial on misdemeanor charges.
Wed., Feb 15, the jurors were seated for the second Oregon case. The jurors won’t be back to court til Tuesday, the 21st since attorneys will be arguing motions before the judge.
Ammon Bundy’s attorney in the first trial, Marcus Mumford, attended on Wed. as well. He is set to defend himself at trial in April for charges such as resisting federal officers. Ignoring Brown’s orders to back away from Mumford, about 6 US Marshals attacked, knocked down and tased Mumford at the close of the first trial in October then arrested him. He was having a heated discussion with Brown at the time about Oregon not having jurisdiction to keep Ammon Bundy in custody. The court had already ruled they didn’t have jurisdiction in Nevada and Mumford was arguing for his client’s release. The court wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Mumford intends to subpoena Brown as a witness at trial.
In Nevada, US Attorney Steven Myhre spent the first day after the jury was impaneled, showing aerial footage. Since the strategy is generally to put on the most damning testimony first, observers and legal analysts all agreed that the government doesn’t appear to have much of a case. But that’s not going to stop Myhre from putting on 60 witnesses.
The first witness called was Assistant Special Agent In Charge Rand Stover, second in command to the now disgraced Daniel P. Love, who is on medical leave of absense citing mental health issues following a two year investigation by the Dept. of Interior for misconduct. Stover, a former Secret Service agent, testified to the threat level he perceived during the days leading up to the April 14 Stand Off. On cross examination he didn’t have any recollection of meeting with the prosecutors until attorney Rick Tanasi showed him reports. Then Stover was forced to admit he’d met with prosecutors between five and ten times leading up to the trial. After the lunch break, a point was made to ask if he’d met with them during the break. He said “No, just co-workers.” Las Vegan Michael Elliot made a Facebook comment that the BLM is “the drop off point for failed agents from other government service jobs.” The presentation was so lifeless, that one juror was noted appearing to fall asleep several times.
The prosecution is, of course, attempting to prove that it was the actions of the protesters that caused the BLM’s operation to fail. The defense team is scoring body blows showing that it was the BLM’s outrageous behavior that was videotaped and went viral that caused protesters to come from every state in the first place. At one point. Stover disagreed that attack dogs were deployed on Ammon Bundy. He quibbled that the dog was never let off his leash so he wasn’t actually deployed. When questioned about the handler pointing his command for the dog to attack Ammon. Stover replied, “Yes, after Ammon kicked the dog in the head.” The footage had been admitted into evidence and was played again for Stover. Clearly it showed that the handler pointed, the dog attacked, Ammon defended himself from the dog, the BLM handler pointed again and the dog again attacked, forcing Stover to recant.
Myhre actually did a good job of proving that the BLM actually escalated the entire situation after the BLM had decided to suspend operation the previous day. The defense entered photos into evidence showing the heavily militarized agents from the Unified Command in a “stack position” which is an aggressive position employed before a raid, issue of search warrants and part of the criminal investigation training. Stover also admitted that he refused to obey Metro Deputy Tom Robert’s orders to pull back and that he never saw any guns pointed at him but was only concerned for the safety of the civilian contractors.
During cross examination, the First Amendment Areas were brought into question. The defense forced Stover to admit that those orange fenced areas were removed due to political pressure from the Nevada Governor, Clark County commissioners and other political offices. Governor Brian Sandoval’s statement denouncing the actions of the BLM that is still being not being allowed. Navarro weakly asserts that it “would be overly prejudicial and confuse the jury.” English translation: It would blow the government’s case out of the water. The Nevada State government took credit for arranging the release of the Bundy cattle, giving no credit to the gathered protestors.
Other video evidence admitted was the arrest of Dave Bundy. Returning back from church on April 6th, Dave pulled his car to the side of the road and used his iPad to take photos of the BLM’s operation. The footage shows a white van driven by his brother Ryan Bundy being forced to leave by 8 agents. Dave was kidnapped and roughed up before being released without charges in Las Vegas the next day. Stover acknowledged the snipers on the hills in that same footage. Of course, he had a more euphemistic Orwellian term like “intelligence safety officers” or some such nonsense.
It was also revealed that the militia groups traveling to the area were already infiltrated, which is consistent with militia groups everywhere. The government preferred the term “embedded”. The infiltrators went so far as to purchase clothing at thrift stores so they could blend in with the actual militia.
Another attempt to control the narrative is Myhre objecting every time the defense uses the term “protesters”. He prefers the term “anti-government extremists.” The defense could counter with “anti-American extremists” but haven’t. Rick Tanasi, attorney for Steve Stewart was able to overcome the protestor objection, citing reports written days after the StandOff where Stover and others referred to the crowd as protestors in his Memorandum of Activity. Another BLM agent Mike Johnson admitted that not only did he not write his report until 3 days afterwards after meeting with other agents, but that he was so tired that he didn’t even make any notes on the April 12th.
So far the defense team is doing a solid job of proving that it was political pressure that caused the BLM to suspend operations, not the crowd that gathered in response to their heinous actions such as throwing Margaret Houston to the ground, dogs attacking pregnant women and tasering Ammon Bundy three times. They also were able to show how excessively militarized the BLM are with each agent given two handguns, a Remington shotgun and an AR-15 as a standard issue. They also receive light body armor and can request hard armor.
On Wed, Feb 15, the agents that were called to stand apparently had been instructed to say “I do not recall” in an attempt to thwart cross examination. They repeated the prosecution’s mantra of how fearful they were for their lives citing men in camouflage, what Ryan Bundy sacastically terms “scary clothing” with weapons slung over their shoulders plus a “calvary” on horseback. A video by a deceased videographer where the man gives a running commentary is being allowed even though he’s not able to be cross examined. What the feds like is that he’s saying “This is illegal. We’re going to arrested.” If it was the defense offering a video that couldn’t be rebutted, it would not be allowed. The government is trying to suppress the video of journalist Dennis Michael Lynch walking down to the Wash with his hands in the air yelling “Hey, are you really going to shoot these people? I do not have a weapon. Are you really going to shoot these people if they move forward, yes or no? I’m asking you one question, sir, may I approach so this doesn’t end in bloodshed?”
Carol Bundy and Angie Bundy, wives of Cliven and Ryan respectively, have been in attendance as well as Todd Engel’s sister Kelly and Eric Parker’s wife Andrea. Some of the attorneys for the remaining defendants also attend.
Witnesses are not allowed to be inside the courtroom until they are called to testify. Several such as Cliven Bundy’s sister Margaret Houston, Shawna Cox and Brand Thornton are with the protest outside. During the first week, protester Joshua Martinez was arrested and spent several days in jail. Martinez was on the court property when he was approached by Las Vegas Metro officers demanding to see his identification and date of birth. Martinez refused after failing to get the probable cause or reasonable suspicion from the officers. Taken to jail, they refused to let him speak on his own behalf and a court appointed attorney was assigned to him. They raised his bail from $640 to $2000 for obstruction, which is becoming a favorite charge. They are offering a 146 day suspended sentence which includes staying away from the Federal court. Martinez was back at the protest but chose to “tread lightly” and stayed off the court steps. He feels they’re offering this plea bargain to keep Martinez from coming back and suing Metro for false arrest and imprisonment. Jonathan “Skipper” Speece, made a point of showing on a live feed that they completely clean up the area, leave no trace of trash in a effort to maintain the high ground and not cause any negative PR.
On February 12th a video was leaked on the internet of BLM aggression at the Bundy Ranch. Even this video from phone calls, body and dash cams is edited. The first part is a phone conversation with Ryan Bundy which cuts off the conversation before the BLM agents tells Bundy that it’s going to be Waco. Agents can be seen mocking protestors and joking about who or what they should shoot fist. Agents ignored the directive from the Clark County Sheriff’s office to keep long guns either slung on their shoulders or out of site. Video shows the BLM and others from the Unified Command with weapons raised at protestors.
The defense team will continue an aggressive cross examination while they wait their turn to put on their case. Already defendants are working on their cases for unlawful/ false imprisonment and hopefully “Dirty Harry” Reid will be a defendant.
Patricia Aiken. Any reprinting of this article is by expressed written permission only by email to SacredCowBBQ@protonmail.com.