Saturday, December 31, 2016

Oregon standoff defendant Jon Ritzheimer now tries to withdraw his guilty plea

Just days after a federal judge denied one Oregon standoff defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, co-defendant Jon Ritzheimer Friday filed his own motion to rescind his guilty plea. Jon Ritzheimer, who had entered a guilty plea on Aug. 15 to the federal charge of conspiracy stemming from the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, now argues that he's innocent of the allegation. A new court-appointed defense lawyer for Ritzheimer argues that Ritzheimer acknowledged he used force, threats or intimidation to take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but the object of his actions was not to impede federal employees, as was argued at the fall trial of co-defendants Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and five others. When he entered his guilty plea, Ritzheimer told the court, "On January 2, I learned of a plan to take the protest to the next level, and I agreed to go to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with an advance party. And I went there and I forcibly occupied the refuge. I did park my truck up at the top of the refuge, and I camped out there for a few days...And I can see how my conduct and my actions there would be intimidating. But I did forcibly go and occupy the refuge, and so I plead guilty to it. '' Ritzheimer's lawyer also contends there was new evidence on informants that arose during the initial trial, after his plea was issued, including the identity of several FBI confidential sources who were at the refuge: Mark McConnell, Terri Linnell and Fabio Minoggio. McConnell told federal agents that, "Ritzheimer is not participating much in any leadership decisions,'' according to redacted reports prosecutors provided to defense lawyers, according to Ritzheimer's motion. Linnell, interviewed by Ritzheimer's lawyer after the trial, said she would testify in his defense that she only knew him to be involved in peaceful protest, Ritzheimer's motion said. Linnell testified for the defense in the Bundy trial as well...more

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