Two fully acquitted, two partly acquitted from Bundy standoff | TSLN.com

Two fully acquitted, two partly acquitted from Bundy standoff

Two of the four men on trial for their participation in the Bundy "standoff" on Aug. 12, 2014, were fully acquitted Aug. 22, and the other two were acquitted of some charges.

Steven Stewart of Idaho and Ricky Lovelien of Montana, were acquitted and released after 19 months in prison with no bond and two trials. The first trial, held in April of 2017 resulted in a hung jury for those two men along with O. Scott Drexler and Eric Parker both of Idaho.

After the second trial, the jury was hung on some counts, which means they could not unanimously agree on a decision. For Parker they jury was hung on the charges of: assault on a federal officer, use and carry of a firearm in relation to assaulting a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, use and carry of a firearm in relation to threatening a federal officer.

The jury was hung on two counts for Scott Drexler, also of Idaho: assault on a federal officer and use and carry of a firearm in relation to assaulting a federal officer.

“John Gotti Jr. (a mafia leader) was retried four times” Roger Roots, attorney not involved in the retrial

According to Roger Roots, a Montana attorney who attended the trial, the prosecution and defense lawyers met with the jury following the reading of the verdict and were told that the jury members voted 11-1 for acquittal on those six charges. There is no limit to the number of times defendents can be retried after juries fail to return verdicts (hung juries) said Roots. "John Gotti Jr. (a mafia leader) was retried four times," he pointed out.

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U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro released Parker and Drexler on "recognizance" after 19 months in prison without bond and ordered them to return to her courtroom Sept. 25. Steve Myhre, the federal prosecutor, made the call to go ahead with trial number three. The men will only be tried for the charges on which the jury was hung.

Nevada Department of Justice spokesperson Trisha Young said her office does not have information detailing the government's cost in prosecuting the first two trials.

"I do know that. There are three attorneys on this case and there were four attorneys on the first case," she said.

Parker still faces 32 years to life in prison if he is found guilty both assaulting and threatening a federal officer, while Drexler faces five to seven years in prison if he is charged with assault of a federal officer while brandishing a firearm, said Roots.

All four of the men were utilizing public defenders, Roots said.

Roots said he doesn't know how the federal government decided which protesters it would take to court. "It seems pretty random. There are pictures I've seen of others with firearms. It has never been clear to me why some people got charged and others didn't."

Roots added that the two men who were acquitted could sue the federal government for the 19 months they were held without bond, but "trying to sue for time in jail is a losing battle," and he doesn't expect it will happen.

Members of the Bundy family and others remain incarcerated as they wait for their own trials. (See sidebar.)

Although there are old motions requesting release of the prisoners that have yet to be ruled on, Roots said the release of Parker and Drexler on recognizance could inspire new motions requesting release by attorneys representing Bundy family members and the others.

In the April and July-August trials, Judge Navarro penned motions that prevented the defense from talking about the First Amendment, Second Amendment, the "First Amendment Zone" created by the BLM at the Bundy Ranch, and alleged BLM abuses that inspired the men to travel to Nevada.

Judge Navarro was chosen from a field of six judges to preside over the case via a computerized system that randomly assigns judges to cases said Deb Kempe, the court executive. She said because all of the defendants and indictments are considered one case, they will all be tried in Navarro's court. (See sidebar.)

Wayne Hage Junior, a Nevada rancher whose father Wayne Hage is known for battling the federal government over water and property rights on federal land, said Navarro has presided over cases his family has been involved in.

He also said that a judge who denies defendants their rights can work in the favor of the defense, as was the case for him once. "By violating our rights at every turn, it ended up giving us the perfect appeal. The more she violates their rights in the courtroom, the more appealable errors."

Andrea Parker, Eric's wife, who uploaded video testimony daily following the recent trial announced Aug. 23 that she and her husband would be traveling home along with their two children who had been with grandparents throughout the trial. "If you are on a witness list or you think you might be, don't contact us," she said, announcing that she and her husband would have limited contact with the public leading up to the Sept. 25 trial.

According to Andrea, three of the men- Eric, Drexler and Stewart are friends who traveled to and from the standoff together – spending about 24 hours in the Bundy Ranch area on April 12, 2014. Lovelien was not acquainted with the other three.

Two other men, Greg Burleson and Todd Engel were co-defendants with those four men in the first trial. Both were found guilty of some counts. Burleson has been sentenced to 68 years in prison for eight counts, including assault, threats, extortion, obstruction of justice, and multiple gun charges. After being given alcohol before the interview, Burleson told an undercover FBI agent posing as a documentary film maker that he "was hell bent on killing federal agents that had turned their back on we the people." He later said that he didn't mean it, and that he "shouldn't drink." Burleson also posted inflammatory comments on Facebook after returning home to Phoenix, when the Bundy cattle were released.

Navarro also ordered Burleson to pay $1.5 million in "restitution" to compensate the government for costs associated with impounding Cliven Bundy's cattle.

Burleson is a past FBI informant.

Engel has not yet been sentenced.

Defendants:

a. Tier 1: Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Peter Santilli, and Ryan Payne;

b. Tier 2: Dave Bundy, Mel Bundy, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods, and Micah McGuire; and

c. Tier 3: Richard Lovelien, Todd Engel, Gregory Burleson, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler, and Steven Stewart.

The Tier 3 defendants were ordered to proceed to trial February 6, 2017.

The Tier 1 defendants will proceed to trial 30 days after the conclusion of the trial of the Tier 3 defendants.

The Tier 2 defendants will proceed to trial 30 days after the conclusion of the trial of the Tier 1 defendants.

The charges against the tier 3 defendants in the most recent trial were as follows:

1. Conspiracy to commit an offense against the United states

2. Conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer

5. Assault on a federal officer – April 12

6. Use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence – April 12

8. Threatening a federal law enforcement officer – April 12

9. Use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence – April 12

12. Obstruction of the due administration of justice – April 12

14. Interference with interstate commerce by extortion – April 12

15. Use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence – April 12

16. Interstate travel in aid of extortion

The tier 1 and 2 defendants face these and more charges.

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