Malheur II – Eaton Scores for the Defense
by Shari Dovale
Today’s courtroom drama began with former Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing continuing his avoidance of answering the defense questions. Michelle Kohler, attorney for Duane Ehmer, repeatedly asked him “In the fall of 2015, when did you first move agents to Burns,” in response to the Hammond situation? Bretzing danced around this question several times until the judge got annoyed and shut down Ms. Kohler.
Additionally, Bretzing did not know when and where the license plate readers had been installed, just that there were some there.
He did, finally, admit that he was tracking Ammon Bundy via his cell phone, “But only when it was on.”
Bretzing did admit on the stand that he was not happy at the outcome of the last trial, for Ammon Bundy, et al. He does want someone to be held accountable, however, when asked directly, “It is your desire to hold someone accountable?” he said that he “cannot answer that.” That is no surprise because that would open him up to explaining why he was testifying at all when he did not testify at the last trial. I don’t know, can we call this revenge?
Judge Brown was not happy with the defense team and chastised them during a break away from the jury. Claiming they are asking the same questions repeatedly, she directed them to confer and stop wasting the jury’s time.
I noticed that prosecutor Ethan Knight was referring to the court officers by their first names, in the same tone as calling the FBI “folks” as if he were just a down-home kind of guy. Apparently, Judge Brown noticed it as well and directed him to show more respect to them and stop being so informal.
Andy Dunbar testified after the break but did not have new any surprises. Dunbar is the rancher with property next to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. His son had given permission during the protest for the fence to be cut, yet Andy came along and denied that permission was given. It turned out that Dunbar, and his son, each received $2,000 from the FBI for information and allowing them to stay on his property, staging out of there and spying on the protesters. It is no wonder he hit the ceiling when he found out about the fences.
Dunbar did attempt to deny that he was an “Informant” however he and his son provided information to, and was paid by, the FBI. My dictionary lists that definition under PAID INFORMANT.
Chad Karges, The Refuge Manager, testified this afternoon. Again, he admitted that it was his decision to order all refuge employees to not go to the refuge under any circumstances until he directed them to do so. He made this decision a full 2 days before the rally in Burns. Claiming that he heard rumors and got uncomfortable, that was a big step for someone that just heard a few rumors.
No employees missed working, as they worked out of another field office for the duration of the protest. No employees missed getting paid, and Karges actually left town for over a month. I think it was a vacation….
Michelle Kohler earned points again when she made the point that Karges had no access to the safe the defendants are accused of destroying, therefore Karges had no way of confirming that the destruction took place during the protest. It could have happened months before or even after. Additionally, Karges had no personal knowledge of any money that may have been in the safe, therefore, no knowledge of what may have been missing.
Butch Eaton was the highlight testimony for the defense, even though he testified for the prosecution. This was a repeat performance from the last trial. He admitted that he was taken to the refuge without realizing where they were going. When he figured out what he believed to be happening, he walked out and called his wife to come get him.
Eaton has COPD and was recently diagnosed with MS. He was afraid of prosecution and told this to the FBI. However, he made it very clear that he wished he could have stood with the Patriots. He admires them and feels they “are better men than I!”
Eaton also stated on the witness stand that “They are doing what I should have been doing!”
Eaton recounted his fear of the FBI and told of an agent refusing to give him a business card because of the danger that Eaton could be facing. When Eaton asked him if he should be in fear for his life, the agent responded, “Not in fear, but concerned.” This shows the extent that the FBI was willing to go to intimidate people against the Protest.
Andrew Kohlmets scored several points on behalf of Jason Patrick. It was testified several ways that Jason did not dress like militia, in camouflage, nor was he seen carrying a gun. He was seen, repeatedly, to be heavily armed with a CAMERA. That was his weapon of choice, and it must have been very scary to the government.
There were a couple more prosecution witnesses, including FBI Agent Ronnie Walker, who is special enough to be allowed to sit in the courtroom and listen to all of the testimony before he testifies himself. That special privilege was bestowed on him during the previous trial by Judge Brown, and it continues for this trial.
The defense is doing a very good job in breaking up the prosecution case. However, as I said before, Judge Brown still appears to be working for the prosecution. I do not believe the Bench Trial outcome will be difficult to predict.