A federal jury in Las Vegas refused Tuesday to convict four defendants who were retried on accusations that they threatened and assaulted federal agents by wielding assault weapons in a 2014 confrontation to stop a cattle roundup near the Nevada ranch of states' rights figure Cliven Bundy.You might remember that the Bundy standoff in Arizona resulted in no shootings, and no violence, so charging them with assault seems like a stretch. I don't think they even verbally threatened violence, and I don't see how legally carrying a firearm can be considered a threat. However, a later demonstration, where two Bundy sons and others took over the headquarters at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, resulted in the death of one rancher, when local law enforcement killed LaVoy Finicum, after an FBI agent fired the first shot at a car carrying Ryan Bundy, Finicum, and two women to a meeting in Burns, Oregon at a road block.
In a stunning setback to federal prosecutors planning to try the Bundy family patriarch and two adult sons later this year, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges, and delivered not-guilty findings on most charges against Scott Drexler and Eric Parker.
More than 30 defendants' supporters in the courtroom broke into applause after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Lovelien and Stewart freed immediately and set Wednesday morning hearings to decide if Parker and Drexler should remain jailed pending a government decision whether to seek a third trial.
"Random people off the streets, these jurors, they told the government again that we're not going to put up with tyranny," said a John Lamb, a Montana resident who attended almost all the five weeks of trial, which began with jury selection July 10.
"They've been tried twice and found not guilty," Bundy family matriarch Carol Bundy said outside court. "We the people are not guilty."
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nbsp;Prosecutors characterized the six as the least culpable of 19 co-defendants arrested in early 2016 and charged in the case, including Bundy family members. With the release of Lovelien and Stewart, 17 are still in federal custody.
The current jury deliberated four full days after more than 20 days of testimony. The six men and six women returned no verdicts on four charges against Parker — assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer and two related counts of use of a firearm — and also hung on charges of assault on a federal officer and brandishing a firearm against Drexler. Navarro declared a mistrial on those counts.
None of the defendants was found guilty of a key conspiracy charge alleging that they plotted with Bundy family members to form a self-styled militia and prevent the lawful enforcement of multiple court orders to remove Bundy cattle from arid desert rangeland in what is now the Gold Butte National Monument.
Compare the pursuit of charges against the non violent Bundy protestors with the lack of charges against the repeatedly violent antifa protesters, before and after the election.