Get ready for the next national scandal.
AZ Central reports that a jury did not return any guilty verdicts in the conspiracy and weapons case against four men involved in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff.
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After four days, jurors returned not-guilty verdicts on some counts and were deadlocked on others.
Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma and Eric Parker, Steven Stewart and O. Scott Drexler, all of Idaho, were being retried on conspiracy, extortion, assault and obstruction charges for helping Cliven Bundy fend off a government roundup of his cattle in what became known as the Battle of Bunkerville.
A jury in April deadlocked on charges against the four men. It convicted two other defendants on multiple counts. But the jury could not agree on conspiracy charges — a key component of the government’s case — against any of the six.
The government launched its second prosecution last month. The case ended dramatically last week, when defense attorneys waived closing arguments as part of a protest about court proceedings and legal rulings they said prevented them from offering a proper defense.
The Bundy Ranch standoff is one of the most high-profile land-use cases in modern Western history, pitting cattle ranchers, anti-government protesters and militia members against the Bureau of Land Management.
For decades, the BLM repeatedly ordered Bundy to remove his cattle from federal lands and in 2014 obtained a court order to seize his cattle as payment for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
Notably, all of this was despite the fact that US District Court Judge Gloria Navarro forbade the defense from raising the issue of why the defendants were motivated to travel long distances to join the protests, or argue that the defendants’ First and Second Amendment rights justified their actions.
17 defendants remain to be tried, and if convicted could face up to life in prison.
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