Monday, March 06, 2017

Defense calls last witnesses in second refuge takeover trial

This article from The Oregonian covers the same ground as others posted, with the exception of the role of the FBI plant and the testimony of Sandra Anderson:

The defense is expected to wrap up Tuesday morning. Prosecutors plan to call two refuge employees during rebuttal: manager Chad Karges and fish biologist Linda Beck. They'll be able to testify about any fears they had that may have influenced their decisions not to return to work during the 41-day occupation of the federal wildlife sanctuary. Jeff Banta and Sandra Anderson, two occupiers who were among the final four holdouts at the refuge last winter before surrendering on Feb. 11, 2016, also took the witness stand Monday for the defense. Banta, acquitted of all charges last fall, spoke of FBI informant Fabio Minoggio and how in late January 2016, Minoggio, posing as an occupier, led military-style training for the Bravo security team at the refuge. Minoggio told Bravo members, of which Banta was one, to meet him at the refuge boat launch, Banta said. Minoggio, according to Banta, conducted scenario-type training, teaching occupiers how to pull a motorist from a vehicle to interrogate them at gunpoint. On his way to the boat launch area, Banta said he drove over a rope attached to a fire hose. Once he reached the site and got out, Minoggio "tells us we're all dead,'' Banta recounted. "He proceeded to train us how to use a fire hose to disable a vehicle,'' Banta explained. Banta, who had no prior military experience, also testified that Minoggio led the Bravo security group in target shooting. He had the men walk in formation and fire at targets, but at times, "he'd discharge his firearm behind us,'' Banta said. He'd fire straight up into the air or into the ground, Banta said. During the training, Banta said he fired three to five rounds. "He was basically kind of seeing how we reacted under pressure,'' Banta said.As Sandra Anderson was called in and walked up to the witness stand, her husband Sean Anderson stood for her in the courtroom gallery at the back of the room. Both were set to join the four defendants on trial but accepted plea deals days before jury selection. They were among the last four holdouts at the refuge before their surrender on Feb. 11, 2016. Anderson testified that she, her husband and others remaining at the refuge after Jan. 26, 2016 - the day Bundy was arrested and police fatally shot occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum -  there was some talk about building trenches. Defense lawyer Jesse Merrithew, who represents Ryan who is accused of using a refuge excavator to dig a trench on the property, asked what purpose the trenches served. Anderson said it was to serve as a defense against possible assault from the FBI. "We needed to slow them down to give us time to prepare our defense,'' she said. What kind of defense did she and others plan against FBI armored vehicles? "Anything we could to stay alive,'' she said tearfully...more

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