Thursday, September 29, 2016

Defense warned to ‘get it together’ in Malheur trial - video

The defense took center court Wednesday in the trial of 7 people accused of taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and it didn’t take long for Judge Anna Brown to admonish them. Judge Brown was visibly frustrated with the defense’s unkempt presentation of witness testimony and told them to “get it together” early in the day. Despite nearly constant objections on behalf of the prosecution, defense lawyers managed to present jurors with evidence previously unknown in the case, including testimony that the FBI sent 2 agents to a Mormon church in Burns as part of its investigation into the refuge takeover. FBI agent Ben Jones told the jury he and another agent were asked to go to the area’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to see if the Bundy brothers or any other known militia members were there. “Neither of us were attempting to hide who we were,” Jones explained, adding that he is a practicing Mormon who was also at the church to worship. Jones also revealed the FBI paid local rancher Andy Dunbar and his son $2,000 each for allowing the agency to use their land for access to the refuge during the standoff. FBI agent Chadd Lapp confirmed government informant Mark McConnell was also paid for his role in the standoff. McConnell drove Ammon Bundy’s car the day he and 7 other occupiers were arrested along Hwy 395. Another FBI agent who said he had numerous phone conversations with Ammon Bundy testified Wednesday. Agent Christopher Luh told the court Bundy showed up at Burns Municipal Airport hoping for a meeting. Luh said he characterized Bundy as “a face-to-face kind of guy.” In a recorded phone call played for the jury, Bundy told Luh things were “great” at the refuge and that he “wanted to get the land back into the right hands.” Bundy also told Luh the refuge was in bad shape when he arrived. He said occupiers were spending most of their time doing maintenance and cleanup work. When asked how he saw the standoff ending, Bundy said he hoped the land would be turned over to the county and used as a local resource center for ranchers. Local ranchers, “should be able to manage those lands as a free people,” Bundy said. “We’re not going to escalate [anything],” Bundy reassured Luh during their conversation. “We’re here to work, here to shake your hand… let you know that I am a good person, not a threat… not going to use violence. That’s never been our style and that’s not what we’re here to do.” “We have a situation here that needs to be resolved and we’re not going to ignore that,” Bundy added. Sheila Warren, an elder with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, told jurors she went to the refuge on her own accord after hearing conflicting reports on whether occupiers were mishandling Native American artifacts. Warren said the occupiers were friendly and welcoming during her visit. She said she inspected a room full of artifacts that were covered in dust, cobwebs and rodent droppings. This, she said, proved the items hadn’t been touched by the occupiers. Throughout Warren’s testimony, Judge Brown reminded her to only answer questions posed by the defendants. The judge warned Warren could cause a mistrial if she continued to volunteer unasked-for information...more  

Further reading:  

FBI sent two agents into Mormon church in Burns as part of refuge takeover investigation

Oregon standoff trial: Wednesday highlights, and what's next

Here is the KOIN video report:

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