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Monday, April 24, 2017

Judge declares mistrial in #BundyRanch standoff case _Las Vegas Review-Journal

Judge declares mistrial in Bundy Ranch standoff case – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Updated April 24, 2017 - 1:15 pm
A federal judge on Monday declared a mistrial in the conspiracy case
against six men accused of staging an armed assault against federal
authorities who tried to seize rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle from public
lands in Bunkerville.


The mistrial was declared hours after the jury convicted two men of
multiple counts, but announced that they were “hopelessly deadlocked” on
the remaining charges and defendants. U.S. District Judge Gloria
Navarro, in a last-ditch effort to encourage them to reach a unanimous
decision, sent them back to deliberations.


But by midday, the jurors said they still were at an impasse, and a
mistrial was declared. Navarro set a new trial date of June 26, which
was initially supposed to be the start date for the second Bunkerville
standoff trial against Bundy and some of his sons.

 
The six men in the first trial were accused of providing the
firepower in a mass conspiracy to block authorities from seizing rancher
Cliven Bundy’s cattle from public land. Among other counts, the jury
was deadlocked on the conspiracy charge, which represented the core
issue of the trial.


Gregory Burleson, an active member of Arizona militia groups who used
to be a paid FBI informant, and Todd Engel, an Idaho resident, both
were convicted of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of
extortion. Burleson also was found guilty of assault on a federal
officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, interference
with interstate commerce by extortion, and multiple firearms charges.


Bundy’s decadeslong battle against the Bureau of Land Management over
grazing fees reached a flashpoint three years ago when authorities
started rounding up his cattle. Hundreds of protesters, numbers of them
armed, descended on the cattle impoundment site to protest what they
viewed as federal overreach.


The first six men on trial faced charges of conspiracy, threats,
extortion and related counts. Prosecutors say they used force to bully
federal agents into abandoning roughly 400 cows that were in the lawful
possession of the U.S. government.


Defense attorneys argued that their clients were peaceful protesters
exercising their First and Second Amendment rights against a militant
law enforcement presence.


The jury has been deliberating since April 13. The trial opened Feb. 6.


Bundy and 10 other people are incarcerated pending trial on similar
charges. Prosecutors divided the defendants into three groups for trial.
The first group, charged as “gunmen,” have been described by the
government as the least culpable of the alleged co-conspirators.

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