Carol Bundy, in an interview with The Republic, said her husband, sons and others are really being tried for making federal authorities look bad and forcing them to back down in the face of a citizen uprising.
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An investigation could derail one of the most high-profile land-use trials in modern Western history.
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Cliven Bundy refuses to pay fees for cattle grazing on public land for 20 years.
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Bundy Ranch trial: Carol Bundy speaks
BLM misconduct probe may derail Bundy ranch standoff trial
Rancher: ‘We did what we had to do’
The case will be retried in June and will delay the trial of Cliven Bundy and other standoff leaders.
LAS VEGAS — A federal judge declared a mistrial Monday against four men accused of taking up arms against federal agents during the Bundy Ranch standoff in 2014.
A jury convicted two defendants on multiple counts but could not reach a unanimous verdict against four others.
U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro said the four men will be retried June 26.
The case was the first of three trials against 17 defendants charged in the standoff, which pitted cattle ranchers, anti-government protesters and militia members against the Bureau of Land Management.
Navarro’s decision will delay the start of the second trial against cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who are described by prosecutors as the leaders of the standoff.
The jury told Navarro on Monday morning that it was “hopelessly deadlocked” and could not reach verdicts on the four defendants.
Navarro ordered the jurors to continue deliberating to see if they could reach additional verdicts. But just before 1 p.m., Navarro declared a mistrial and ordered a retrial.
The defendants faced 10 identical charges and could spend the rest of their lives in prison if convicted.
The jury did not convict any defendants on conspiracy charges, viewed as a huge blow to government prosecutors who built the case to pivot on two counts of conspiracy.
Gregory Burleson of Arizona, was convicted on eight charges, including threatening and assaulting a federal officer, obstruction, interstate travel in aid of extortion and brandishing a weapon. Burleson had told a video crew after the standoff that he had come to the Bundy Ranch to kill federal agents. The video crew was made up of undercover FBI agents.
Todd Engel of Idaho was convicted of obstruction and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
“The bottom line is a hung jury is not the end of the world,” Las Vegas lawyer Shawn Perez said Monday after the jury announced its first impasse. “But it’s (more time) in prison for my client.”
Perez, who represents Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma, said how the government decides to retry the case will depend on how the jury split.
“For them to say they are hopeless deadlocked, my gut is telling me it has to be more than one juror holding out.”
Jurors began deliberating April 13 after two months of testimony involving 35 prosecution and four defense witnesses.
The Bundy Ranch standoff is one of the most high-profile land-use cases in modern Western history.
The six men, from Arizona, Idaho and Oklahoma, are among 17 defendants charged with conspiracy, extortion assault and obstruction for helping rancher Cliven Bundy fend off a government round-up of his cattle.
For decades, the BLM repeatedly ordered Bundy to remove his cattle from federal lands and in 2014 obtained a court order to seize his cattle as payment for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
The Bundy family issued a social-media battle cry. Hundreds of supporters from every state in the union, including members of several militia groups, converged on his ranch about 70 miles north of Las Vegas.
After the BLM abandoned the roundup, the standoff was hailed as a victory by militia members. Ammon and Ryan Bundy cited their success at Bundy Ranch in their run-up to the siege of an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016, also in protest of BLM policies. An Oregon federal jury acquitted Ammon, Ryan and five others in October.
No arrests were made in the Bundy Ranch case until after the Oregon siege ended.
The BLM abandoned the roundup because they were afraid they were going to die, federal prosecutors told the jury. They said law enforcement officers were surrounded and outgunned in a dusty arroyo beneath Interstate 15 where they had penned the cattle.
Local, state and federal law enforcement officers testified they were afraid they would be shot or be drawn into a bloody shooting war with unarmed men, women and children in the crossfire.
Defendants denied they conspired to help Bundy and told jurors the case had nothing to do with cattle. They said they came to protect the public from overzealous and aggressive law enforcement officers.
Defendants said they were moved to join Bundy after seeing internet images of officers throwing an elderly woman to the ground, loosing dogs on one of Bundy’s sons and shocking protesters with a stun guns.
They also said they were inspired to act by the so-called First Amendment zone officers established to cordon off anticipated protesters, which they described as anathema to free speech.
Defense lawyers attempted to cast the case as a constitutional issue and said their clients were exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Navarro would not allow the defense to argue about constitutional protections to the jury.
Navarro also prevented the defense from calling a string of witnesses about what happened in the run-up to the standoff, ruling they could only testify about what happened on the final day of the standoff.
That left lawyers chipping away at the conspiracy charges, which make up the core of the government’s case. They sought to establish the six men acted independently from one another and without coordination from the Bundys.
No information was presented in court to explain what led prosecutors to file charges against the six men out of the hundreds of protesters at the Bundy Ranch. Lawyers said their clients were singled because of comments they made online and in interviews before and after the standoff.
Burleson, Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma and O. Scott Drexler, Engel, Eric Parker and Steven Stewart of Idaho are described as the least culpable of all 17 defendants.
The jury had to work through a complicated set of 37 separate jury instructions to determine the culpability of each defendant.
It had to decide if the defendants were part of a criminal conspiracy that sought to impede and injure federal officers.
It was also asked to determine if the men were guilty of assault and threatening federal officers, carrying or using a firearm in a crime of violence, obstruction of justice, interference of interstate transportation by extortion, interstate in aid of extortion and aiding and abetting.
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