Malheur 7 – The Defense Rests
by Shari Dovale
The case of the Malheur Protest Trial wound down today in a flurry of last minute activity.
The defense continued asking for information on the Confidential Human Sources (CHS) used by the government to inform on the Patriot protesters. There were a total of 15 informants providing 129 reports, of which they were all redacted when sent to the defense.
One more informant was named, Fabio Minoggio, also known as John Killman. He testified that he was reimbursed for various expenses, including a ballistic vest, car repairs, and gasoline while at the refuge. He participated in the protest, including providing firearms training. He also taught defendant Jeff Banta hand-to-hand combat training.
Before Minoggio took the stand, Judge Anna Brown insured that he was provided a court appointed attorney to look out for his Constitutional rights. This is interesting because she had not given that same protection or concern for other witnesses during this trial.
When his attorney came into the courtroom to give a status update, he asked for, and received, an ex-parte meeting with the judge about “the wisdom” of his client’s testimony. This seemed highly improper to me, but the judge came back in and reassured everyone that it was fine. (Yeah, okay.)
As far as the remaining Informants, Judge Brown was very clear from early on that she was not going to allow the names and info to be released. “I am not compelling the government to do anything,” she said, “because I don’t believe I have the authority to do so.”
She did push both sides to come up with a stipulation. The stipulation included the fact that out of 15 total informants there were 9 staying at the refuge. 3 have been identified. Out of the remaining 6 that stayed there, they all left the refuge by January 23rd. The stipulation did not include any information on any informants that were staying in the town of Burns. It did not include what compensation they received, or what information they reported.
With the micromanaging of Judge Brown, the prosecution and defense were a little out of order in completing their cases, but they did get done. The prosecution put a few witnesses on for rebuttal that were not very impressive. Steve Grasty took the stand and it was easy to see why the government waited to call him, as he was not a very good witness.
At one point, he was asked if the Malheur Wildlife Refuge was “a Federal Facility.” He was quick to respond with “Yes! As is most of Harney county.”
Grasty made multiple attempts to accuse the protesters of committing “crimes” however the defense forced him to admit that he knew that no state laws had been broken.
Grasty talked about the meeting at the high school on January 19th. He stated that he told Ammon that it was time for him to leave Harney County. When the defense objected, Judge Brown said that this was not being offered for Truth, but for the fact that he said it.
Brown allowed Grasty to repeat it and there were more objections. Judge Brown just said that she wanted to be sure the jury heard it.
Chad Kargis took the stand again. He tried to say that he personally supervised each employee during the occupation, however, he was forced to admit that he left Harney County on January 7th and did not return until after February 11th.
Deputy Lucas McLain took the stand and hedged his answers to Marcus Mumford. Judge Brown got upset with Mumford when the attorney was trying to find out where McLain was during the day on January 2nd. No records were provided to verify this information, and Judge Brown would not allow him to explore this on cross examination. When Mumford said he wanted to recall the deputy, Brown put her foot down and told him “No!”
There were more moments from Judge Brown today, including calling one of the prosecutors by his first name…accidentally, of course. She also referred to the defendants, in front of the jury, as “the conspirators”. She did not say “alleged”. This is not the first time she has made this mistake. This is a bit of a habit for her, it seems.
Before the jury left for the day, the alternate jurors made an unusual request of Judge Brown. Due to the time investment they have put in to this trial, they requested to be able to sit in a nearby room and listen to the deliberations. This, of course, is against the law, but it was interesting that they should ask.
The closing arguments will begin tomorrow and are expected to last into Wednesday afternoon. The jury will receive the case at that point. The jury will deliberate during normal hours on Thursday, then have an expected 3 day weekend, returning on Monday morning.