Malheur II – Wrapping up the Week
by Shari Dovale
The prosecution has presented the majority of their case in the second Malheur Protest Trial. This case is considerably shorter than the previous trial.
Witnesses included refuge manager Chad Karges, who testified that he was the one that directed the employees not to go to work. He made this decision a full two days before the rally that began the protest.
It was made clear that none of the protesters, or current defendants, had any contact with the employees of the refuge, therefore, there was no chance of threatening them. However, the prosecution is basing their case on implied and circumstantial evidence. Linda Beck indicated that she was willing to go to the refuge to retrieve a laptop computer but was ordered not to do so by Chad Karges.
The prosecution did their ‘Really Big Gun Show” again. Letting the jury see all of these scary weapons, and ammo to go with it, is very important to the prosecution’s case. If they cannot win on the facts, maybe they can win on emotion and scare tactics?
The big story of the week is the subpoena of John Sepulvado. The prosecution wanted to place into evidence a recorded interview that the former OPB reporter made with Ryan Bundy. Judge Anna Brown, in an unusual move, cited the First Amendment and quashed the subpoena
It does not make sense that she would support the US Constitution in this case, when she has already fought against it in the Gary Hunt case. She has ordered Hunt to appear in her court and shows every indication of trampling on the first amendment. You can read about that case here.
Judge Brown has repeatedly had issues with the US Constitution. Making multiple, and forceful, comments that the law in her courtroom is only as she dictates it to be and not the Constitution. She made an exception in this case, so she is picking winners and losers. I, personally, would like to see her stop cherry-picking this document and using it only if she sees an advantage.
We did have further testimony this week confirming Mark McConnell was a paid informant at the Refuge. Discussions of informants have been a big part of this trial, with the defense making the points that paid informants were possibly part of the security team. If that is true, this would indicate that the FBI set up the defendants to break the law.
It has already been established that Fabio Minoggio, also known as John Killman, was in charge of weapons training at the Refuge, yet the defendants are having to defend themselves against these gun charges, seemingly initiated by this Confidential Human Source (CHS) or paid informant.
Facebook posts and Memes are another part of the prosecutions case. The government went all out to cherry-pick select posts, yet are fighting having any other posts admitted into evidence. A classic example is Duane Ehmer, who has been described as a fierce Facebook-er. Duane has been known to post, share, and comment on hundreds of Facebook posts each day. Memes are a favorite, as well as comments that agree and disagree with other posters. Ehmer has never been afraid to share his thoughts. So, out of the hundreds of postings, the government decided on five posts/memes to represent Ehmer. His attorney, Michelle Kohler, rightfully argued to have the postings just before and just after included in the record, to put them into context.
The FBI witnesses, beginning with former Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing, all had the same theme. ~If the defense asks any questions, we do not remember.~ For a man that was in charge of the entire state of Oregon, and the complete operation of the Malheur Refuge, one would think he was more intelligent than that. He spent nearly the entire month at the refuge, but remembers very little about it.
Other agents commented the same way. They said they needed to refer to their reports, but the reports were not there. Really? I have seen subpoenas that included bringing documents and supporting information with them. I guess the prosecution forgot that part when they issued them to the FBI?
Again, the prosecution is not putting on their best case. The defense is easily combating the evidence. One wonders why the government does not seem to be worried about this case.
…Don’t forget the Bench Trial coming up…
Monday is expected to be the final day of the prosecution case. Blaine Cooper is expected to testify against the defendants, as well as a few more government witnesses before the prosecution rests.
The defense is expected to begin on Tuesday, February 28th, with Ammon Bundy testifying first. Ryan Payne is expected to testify right behind Ammon. The defense does not expect their case to go longer than a week.
This case could be wrapped up much earlier than first anticipated.