Jurors went home after deliberating for 2 full days. They will return on Monday. Please remember them in your prayers that they will do what is rights and free Eric, Ricky, Steven and Scott.
So when a man stands for freedom he stands with God.
And as long as he stands for freedom he stands with God.
And were he to stand alone he would still stand with God.
A man will be eternally vindicated and rewarded for his stand for freedom."
--Ezra Taft Benson
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Please pray everyday and several times a day for the four men who stood for their neighbor in Bunkerville, Nevada in 2014. Pray for Eric Parker, Scott Drexler, Steven Stewart and Rick Lovelien to be set free and able to be reunited to their families where they belong. God Bless these Men.
Defense waives closing arguments; jurors begin deliberations in Bundy Ranch standoff trial
Robert Anglen, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 5:30 p.m. PT Aug. 15, 2017 | Updated 7:40 p.m. PT Aug. 15, 2017
Defendants waived closing arguments Tuesday in the Bundy Ranch standoff trial in Las Vegas, ending a month long legal battle with a clear protest about court proceedings.
Lawyers for the four men charged in the 2014 clash among federal agents, militia members and cattle ranchers took the unusual step of resting their cases without a final address to the jury.
"The message is simple," Las Vegas lawyer Shawn Perez said Tuesday afternoon. "You silenced us the entire trial ... there's nothing more to say."
The move was part of a strategy to deprive federal prosecutors of an opportunity to make rebuttal arguments and to end the case while it was in the hands of the defense, said Perez, who represents defendant Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma.
Jurors began deliberations Tuesday afternoon.
Just after 3 p.m. Tuesday, defendants were called to make closing arguments, when lawyers typically seek to drive home critical points in the case in a last effort to sway jurors. One after the other, defense lawyers stood and recited the same words: "We have no closing at this time."
"I think it was effective," Perez said. "We all decided last night we were going to waive arguments. Otherwise the government was going to come back on rebuttal and embellish stuff and our hands would be tied."
The defense move followed hours of arguments by federal prosecutors, who systematically laid out their case against defendants for their parts in a conspiracy to help Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy prevent federal agents from rounding up his cattle.
Prosecutors singled out defendants in an attempt to show how each was involved in a coordinated, armed effort, each with an individual role to force federal agents to back down.
Prosecutors said some defendants acted as spotters while another served as the equivalent of a getaway driver in a bank robbery.
Defense lawyers offered no explanation in court for their decision to waive closing arguments. But after court ended Tuesday, Perez said the judge made it virtually impossible for defendants to offer any substantive arguments: They were prohibited by rulings from telling jurors why defendants joined the protest at the Bundy Ranch; they couldn't argue about the legality of carrying weapons or mentioning Nevada's open-carry firearms laws; they couldn't say joining a militia was legal.
Defense lawyers have complained throughout the trial that rulings by U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro have prevented them from mounting a legitimate defense and that defendants have been improperly denied a fair trial.
Events came to a head Thursday when Navarro abruptly ended court by ordering defendant Eric Parker off the stand and striking his testimony from the record as jurors watched.
Even after the case went to the jury Tuesday, controversy continued to erupt. Perez said shortly after being dismissed, lawyers were called back into court, where Navarro raised concerns about potential misconduct by a juror.
The judge told lawyers the juror might have made a gesture of support to one of the defendants. Perez said the juror explained under questioning she was saying goodbye to an alternate juror since they likely would not see one another again.
Navarro did not dismiss the juror.
Lovelien, Parker, Steven Stewart and O. Scott Drexler are accused of conspiracy, extortion, assault and obstruction for helping 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.
Perez said Tuesday that he had prepared a closing on behalf of Lovelien. But he said if he had made arguments, it would have opened the door to a rebuttal by prosecutors that would have focused solely on his client.
"As far as I am concerned, they (prosecutors) didn't put up enough evidence against Lovelien," he said.
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.
Hundreds of supporters from every state in the union, including members of several militia groups, converged on his ranch about 70 miles north of Las Vegas.
Navarro's rulings, aimed at trying to avoid jury nullification, have severely limited defense arguments. Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict based on its shared belief rather than on the evidence in a case.
Navarro has barred defendants from discussing why they traveled thousands of miles to join protesters at the Bundy Ranch. She will not allow them to testify about perceived abuses by federal authorities during the cattle roundup that might have motivated them to participate.
Navarro also has restricted defendants from raising constitutional arguments, or mounting any defense based on their First Amendment rights to free speech and their Second Amendment rights to bear arms. In her rulings, Navarro has said those are not applicable arguments in the case.
Federal officials, however, do not face the same restrictions. To show defendants were part of a conspiracy, they have referenced events that happened months, or years, after the standoff.
Defense lawyers called for a mistrial Monday after Parker was removed from the stand. Parker's lawyer accused prosecutors in a motion of wrongly depriving Parker of his right to testify in a way that irreparably damaged the case.
Parker was attempting to tell jurors what he saw during the standoff over a barrage of objections from prosecutors when Navarro put an end to his testimony. Parker returned to the defense table and started crying while Navarro dismissed the jurors.
Prosecutors shot back with a request for sanctions against three of the defendants and their lawyers, accusing them of repeatedly violating court orders by introducing prohibited information and attempting to derail the trial through jury nullification.
Acting Nevada U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, who is leading the prosecution, wrote that Parker’s forced removal from the stand was possibly intentional, "a specifically considered, orchestrated, and accepted strategy — perhaps even a preferred one."
Navarro rejected the mistrial and refused to impose sanctions. She did, however, agree to instruct jurors to treat Parker's testimony as if it never happened.
That meant jurors only heard from a single defendant and no defense witnesses.
Four defense witnesses were permitted to testify via Skype last week, but the jury was not allowed to hear what they said. Navarro ruled that the witnesses, who were at the standoff, failed to establish grounds for self-defense claims sought by defendants.
On Monday, Drexler took the stand and delivered the only defense testimony that jurors were allowed to consider.
Drexler testified even though he brought weapons to the standoff, he had no intention of threatening or assaulting law-enforcement officers.
"My intent was to disappear and not be a threat to any person in the wash," he said.
Drexler admitted bringing an AR-15, a .45 handgun and 250 rounds of ammunition to Bunkerville. On cross-examination, prosecutors sought to show he intended to intimidate authorities and force them to "act more civil."
Three trials are scheduled for 17 defendants who are being prosecuted based on their alleged levels of culpability in the standoff.
Although defendants in the first trial and the retrial are considered the least culpable, all face the same charges and could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The second trial will include Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who are considered ringleaders.
Friday, August 4, 2017
We just wanted to thank the Curtis Family and Ace Hardware for inviting us to their Sidewalk Sale last weekend. They were so great to allow us to come and sell our benches at their Sale. We were able to sell several benches but we were also able to talk and educate people about the truth regarding our families current situation. Thanks again to all of you who supported us and continue to support to help bring Dave home. We are truly blessed to live in such a wonderful community.