Thursday, February 09, 2017

Fireworks, Rocky Start For 2nd Malheur Refuge Trial

The four defendants slated to go to trial for their alleged roles in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were in court Tuesday for pretrial hearings that got off to a bit of a rocky start. Jury selection is set to begin next week. Originally, seven defendants were part of this next trial. The government made plea deals with four defendants, including Thorn, but his presence Tuesday was evidence that at least for now that deal appears to have fallen apart. As the proceeding continued, the court addressed a motion to suppress evidence recovered during Ehmer’s arrest. His attorney, Michele Kohler, argued the way the FBI went about its arrest violated Ehmer’s constitutional rights. During the arrest, the FBI recovered a 19th-century “black powder pistol” and a pouch containing some cash, gas cards and checks made out to Friends of the Malheur, a nonprofit that supports the eastern Oregon refuge. Kohler is trying to keep that information from getting into trial. But prosecutors disagreed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said there was no violation of Ehmer’s rights during the arrest. Among other things, he said the FBI agents had probable cause. “The motion to suppress should be denied,” Gabriel told the judge. Kohler stood and responded that the arrest warrant, which the government has based its arguments on, wasn’t signed until Jan. 28, a day after Ehmer was arrested. The government struggled to respond to that argument. Brown spent upwards of 15 minutes reading the case file aloud, for evidence of a warrant signed earlier. “We have a fundamental problem with the government’s reliance on the arrest warrant,” Brown said. “It’s very curious to me that [FBI agents] all testified to an arrest warrant when there isn’t one,” Brown said, referencing testimony taken in court Monday. “This is a problem.” Brown asked prosecutors to supplement the record so she could rule on whether evidence from Ehmer’s arrest would be allowed in trial...more

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