Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jury hears closings in Nevada ranch standoff trial in Las Vegas

A jury in Las Vegas was asked Wednesday to decide if gunmen who brought assault-style rifles to a 2014 protest near Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy's ranch prevented violence against unarmed protesters during a tense standoff or committed armed acts of violence against federal agents. Defense attorneys representing two Idaho men among the six defendants standing trial for forcing the government to end a round-up of cattle from public land told the U.S. District Court jury their clients committed no crimes. Defendant Steven Stewart exercised his First Amendment right to free speech by using his Second Amendment right to have firearms, defense lawyer Richard Tanasi said. "This is a case of standing up for what you believe in," the attorney said. "A protest is not a conspiracy." Earlier, prosecutor Nicholas Dickinson told jurors that even though no shots were fired, federal agents were the victims of crimes of violence by gunmen supporting a Bundy conspiracy to free his cattle exactly three years ago. The agents were assaulted, threatened and impeded from carrying out U.S. District Court orders to impound Bundy cattle, Dickinson said. "You can't just go vigilante and resist law enforcement officers," he said. "You especially cannot do it with guns." Defendant Eric Parker's lawyer told jurors that Parker decided to go to a place he'd never been to help people he'd never met because he was incensed by internet reports that Bundy family members had been arrested and injured during earlier confrontations with U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents using dogs and stun guns. "Some people protest with signs. Other people protest with guns," attorney Jess Marchese said. "At the end of the day, no one was hurt, and that's the important thing."Deliberations are expected to take time. Chief District Judge Gloria Navarro spent 45 minutes just reading aloud the instructions the jury will rely on to weigh two months of testimony and reach verdicts on 10 charges including weapon violations, conspiracy, obstruction, extortion and threatening and assaulting a federal agent...more

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