Tuesday, June 07, 2016

12 defendants seek separate trials in Nevada standoff

LAS VEGAS — Twelve of 19 defendants want separate trials in the federal criminal case in Las Vegas involving southern Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy stemming from an armed standoff near his Bunkerville ranch. The 70-year-old state sovereignty figure and three of his adult sons are among those whose attorneys have filed documents in recent weeks seeking to sever their cases from the rest. All 19 have pleaded not guilty to various conspiracy, obstruction, weapon, threat and assault charges stemming from a gunpoint standoff that stopped government agents from rounding up cattle on public land. They’re charged together in a single 63-page indictment. Bundy attorney Joel Hansen argues in a May 27 filing that a group trial could confuse a jury into finding defendants “guilty by association.” Cliven Bundy didn’t carry a gun, didn’t threaten government agents, wasn’t at the scene of the standoff and “was not in control or in charge of anything,” Hansen said. “It is extraordinarily difficult for a jury to follow admonishing instructions and to keep separate evidence that is rele­vant only to co-defendants.” Attorney Chris Rasmussen, representing Peter Santilli, said in a document filed May 25 that Santilli had a First Amendment right to cover the events at the Bundy ranch for an internet talk show he hosts. The lawyer calls Santilli “a new breed of journalist that offers an alternative news channel” to the public...more

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