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Malheur 7: Examining the Prosecution Evidence

The defense has successfully refuted the prosecution evidence.


Examining the Prosecution Evidence

by Shari Dovale

The Malheur Protest Trial resumes in Portland this week and the defense has been able to refute the prosecutions case pretty well.

Though they spent a couple of weeks presenting their ‘evidence,’ the prosecution didn’t have a lot to base their case on.

courthouse2They began by saying that 2 or more people conspired to impede Federal officers from November 5, 2015 through February 12, 2016. That is the basic charge. Let’s look at that first.

Ammon Bundy testified that he did not look into the Hammond case until November 2nd. That is the date that he remembered specifically. He read for hours about Dwight and Steven Hammond, what they had gone through at the hands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and how similar this case was to that of his family.

He then spoke to the Hammonds and Sheriff Ward. At his point, it was still just Ammon with one other person, Ryan Payne, accompanying him. Knowing how important it was for the Sheriff to protect the citizens, and how much power he has to do this, speaking to the Sheriff was an important step. However, Ward apparently got scared and refused to do his job. Ward testified that he immediately called the FBI to step in and take over for him.

Bundy then tried to contact the state and local elected officials. He prepared a letter of “Redress of Grievance”, first sending it via official email accounts, then sending notarized hard copies as a follow up. These went to the Harney County Commissioners, the Sheriff and Governor Kate Brown.

It has been shown that the FBI specifically told these officials NOT to respond to Bundy. As Bundy asked, when your elected officials refuse to respond to you, “What are we to do?”

That is when the January 2nd rally was organized. It began with just Ammon, but quickly spread on social media. It was very encouraging that so many planned to attend the rally.

Before the rally, Ammon held a meeting with about 30 people that had traveled to Burns, OR to attend the rally. This meeting took place at “Ye Olde Castle” restaurant in Burns. It was here, just before the rally, that Ammon first disclosed his idea to hold the refuge through ‘Adverse Possession.’ It was not the only idea talked about that day, but this was Ammon’s idea and no one had heard it prior to then.

The prosecution believe they can convict everyone on the conspiracy charge through various pieces of evidence. Some of that evidence consists of Facebook postings. So, if you post, or re-post, an event such as a protest rally on Social media, the prosecution says that can be evidence in a federal conspiracy trial.

Another item they submitted as evidence is a ‘Meme’ that someone posted to Ammon’s Facebook timeline. It has already been established that several people were administering this page. The meme shown here is either the exact one placed into evidence or one that is very similar. The caption reads: “Forgive me Father for I will sin.”

The prosecution contends that Ammon and the group of Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF) are extremely dangerous based, in part, on this meme. It is my understanding that this saying goes back to ground forces in the military. I guess that fits with the progressive agenda of the military being too dangerous for society.

The prosecution brought in several guns, but were not able to prove ownership of all of them. They could not determine when the guns arrived at Malheur, and whether or not they were placed there before or after the protesters arrived. They could not determine if these specific defendants brought them in. They were … just there.

The defense has presented multiple witnesses stating how comfortable they were at the Refuge. They testified that they saw very few, if any, weapons displayed while they visited. There were enough witnesses making these claims that Judge Anna Brown put her foot down and said that she had seen enough.

Remember, Oregon is an open carry state. It is perfectly legal to carry a sidearm as you go around town and complete your business. In a ranching community, it is normal to see people carrying weapons. Yet, the prosecution made a big splash telling everyone how afraid the town was to see guns being worn everywhere.

The prosecution did not mention the FBI taking over the town, the heavily armed vehicles, or the airport and school being turned over to the FBI for their own use. Just some cowboys carrying sidearms.

Photo of PPN outside the refuge.
Photo of PPN outside the refuge.

The prosecution also attempted to bring in multiple crates of ammunition they say were found at the refuge. Even Judge Brown didn’t want them to take the time to show each box. They say there were approximately 18,000 rounds. The defense put up a witness, Brandon Rapolla, who is a firearms instructor and was at the refuge with the Pacific Patriots Network (PPN). Rapolla testified that this was a small amount of ammo for as many people that were at the refuge, even for target practice.

Rapolla also testified to a photograph that the prosecution entered into evidence. This photo was taken on the road above the refuge and does not depict any of the C4CF group. It shows the PPN under Rapolla’s direction.

Then there are the videos that the prosecution entered as evidence. These include a video that they took from Ammon’s phone. This particular video was a ‘rough draft’ that he later re-recorded. The final was posted publicly, which included Ammon telling folks to come without their firearms. However, the prosecution used the rough draft and objected to the defense wanting to include the final version.

The witnesses that the prosecution questioned included Chad Karges, the refuge manager. Karges testified that it was his decision not to allow his employees to return to the refuge. This decision was made at least 2 days before the rally, and was based on Ammon being at Bunkerville. His name was Bundy and his family fought the BLM in 2014. There you go, the big conspiracy.

Chad Karges, the manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, April 29, 2016 (KOIN)
Chad Karges, the manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, April 29, 2016 (KOIN)

Also testifying were employees that said the offices were messy when they returned on February 17th or 18th. Looking at the time frame, let’s remember that the FBI had sole access to the refuge for about a week after the final four turned themselves in. The FBI then went about doing their crime scene investigation.

Has anyone ever seen what the FBI and crime scene investigators can do to a place? I have personal knowledge of this in my own family. They will tear a place apart to search it all. They will tear down walls, cut up carpet, dump desk drawers, etc. They will cut up cushions on couches and chairs, upend trash cans, kick in doors and more. They NEVER clean up after themselves. There are companies that you can hire specifically to clean up after crime scene investigations, and it costs thousands of dollars. Yet, the protesters have been blamed for every single thing out of place.

The defense has put on multiple witnesses that testified to the cleanliness and care that the C4CF took of the refuge. So many witnesses that, again, Judge Brown grew tired of it and told the defense to stop.

Statements from the defendants never mention keeping employees from doing their jobs. On the contrary, Karges and others testified that the employees never lost time or pay from the protest. They were able to complete their work at other facilities.

The defense has successfully refuted the prosecution evidence. But the questions still beg to be answered. Where is the crime, and who set the standard for this crime?

Judge Brown is heavily invested in this conviction. She has clearly shown her bias favoring the prosecution. Her jury instructions have been changed to lower the bar for the prosecution and make it more difficult for the defense team. She is determined to get a guilty verdict for all defendants in this case.

Stay Tuned! We will see if the evidence really matters.


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4 Comments on Malheur 7: Examining the Prosecution Evidence

  1. Judge Anna Brown should NOT be a judge at all. If you are not neutral then you are not a legitimate judge.

  2. The last sentence is the key. Evidence is in the eye of the beholder. What might satisfy one as proof will be rejected by another. If the court is determined to give a guilty verdict, they will, regardless of what evidence is presented. You are also correct about crime scene investigations. When people were allowed in to get their cars, there were many complaints about unlocked cars being broken up to search. Of course we had many witnesses talk about the good maintenance of the refuge, but I’m surprised the defense didn’t bring up that it could have been trashed by the CSI.

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