Government Turns Hostile on Their Own Witness
By Shari Dovale
Walter Lee (Butch) Eaton took the stand on Wednesday afternoon as a prosecution witness in the Malheur Protest trial being held in Portland, Oregon.
The prosecution put him on the stand hoping to show that not every person in their group was a supporter. They were also attempting to narrow down the conspiracy to the defendants and show not all of their large group even knew about their plans.
Butch Eaton did admit that he went to the Refuge not understanding everything that was taking place. He also admitted to being afraid of the FBI and being arrested. But, he repeatedly spoke his support for the defendants and their cause.
Back on the stand on Thursday for cross examination, Eaton told of what he saw when they arrived at the refuge. He stated that no one shouldered their weapons, meaning no one had their rifles at their shoulders, nor were they looking down the barrels.
Additionally, Eaton was clear that no one broke any locks to any facilities. If the doors were unlocked, they would ask, “Is anyone here?” then move on. Eaton was clear that there was no aggression by any of the Patriots at the refuge.
They are “God-fearing men. Better than me,” Eaton was clear. He explained that the protesters were sure to say a prayer for their safety, as well as the safety of all the law enforcement officers.
He went home the same day he arrived and was visited by FBI the following day. That, Eaton said, is when he felt fear. The FBI intimidated him and made him fearful for his family’s safety. He never before felt fear around the Bundy’s, but the government made that happen. The FBI also told him that he should not be afraid, but he should be concerned.
Eaton said that he never saw any signs posted that stated “No Firearms” or “No Trespassers.” Eaton returned to the refuge on subsequent visits, but never saw aggression or intimidation there.
When the prosecution had their opportunity to for further questions, they treated Eaton as a hostile witness. This was a government witness, but they turned angry on him and began leading their questions.
Robert Salisbury, attorney for Jeff Banta, objected to the leading questions, but Judge Anna Brown again ruled for the government and said that it has “been converted, where leading is okay.”
So, the government turned on their own witness when he would not denounce the defendants. He applauded their efforts and the Judge was not happy.