Case Goes to the Jury in Malheur II
by Shari Dovale
Malheur Protest Trial II in Portland began with a rebuttal case by the prosecution.
Chad Karges, manager of the Malheur Refuge took the stand and said that he was so afraid when he heard of militia being in town that he put loaded guns next to every door in his house. He also told his children and grandchildren in late December not to visit Burns.
The fact that there hadn’t even been a rally as yet, let alone moving the protest to the refuge, when this took place suggests that Karges was afraid of Ammon Bundy just being in his county.
Karges admitted that he preempted Bundy by telling his employees not to return to work 2 days before the rally took place. However, he went to the refuge on January 1st and found nothing unusual taking place.
Linda Beck also took the stand again and explained how she was afraid for her life before the rally took place. During the first trial, and again in the second, she testified that she took a regular vacation on December 17th. During today’s testimony, Beck claimed she would not normally have taken a vacation and only did so, two weeks before the rally, because she was afraid of the people in her town.
The point was made by the prosecution that the idea of occupying the refuge was not even brought up until December 29th, nearly two weeks after Beck left on vacation.
Beck also said that, as she was so afraid of these gun-toting militia, that she went out and bought a gun herself. However, she did not learn of the takeover until after it happened.
It does seem a bit odd that neither of these witnesses mentioned any of this during the first trial.
AUSA Knight also managed to play part of the OPB/John Sepulvado interview with Ryan Bundy. This was allowed by Judge Brown without any authentication being provided.
When the rebuttal case was finished, AUSA Knight went into his closing statements, “This case is about 4 defendants that went too far.”
He spent quite a bit of time explaining, even stressing, to the jurors that the government does not have to show any formal agreement to have a conspiracy. The government does not have to show that anyone was even threatened. The jurors were told to only worry about an agreement, and that could be implied or inferred.
Knight also reminded the jurors that acts by Ammon or Ryan Bundy can be used against these four defendants, as that is part of the conspiracy.
Knight also showed the video, again, of the protesters firing guns at the boat launch. This has already been discussed to have been orchestrated by the FBI Informant Fabio Minoggio, aka John Killman. But, AUSA Knight would like everyone to believe that their were no Informants in the video.
Knight’s narrative did not fit the testimony.
Knight stated that Ammon Bundy, Blaine Cooper and BJ Soper all testified that they discussed AND AGREED to the takeover of the Malheur Refuge on December 29th.
That is not what BJ Soper testified to, as he stated it was tossed out as one of many ideas, however, it was not agreed upon.
Knight also made the stretch that since Jason Patrick was sitting in a chair that did not belong to him he was obviously a leader in the conspiracy.
Each of the defense attorneys were given time to make their case to the jury. They all hit their stride and made good points in favor of their clients.
The highlight of the day was Michele Kohler, attorney for Duane Ehmer. She pointed out a video introduced by the prosecution. The video depicts Blaine Cooper, Ammon Bundy, LaVoy Finicum, as well as several others. They are talking about making a hard stand at the refuge and wanting others to join them.
What is interesting is what most people did not see on the video.
Behind the men talking at the refuge is a US Mail vehicle driving onto the refuge property and delivering the mail. Amazing! This Federal Employee is NOT afraid to come onto the refuge property and do their job!
When Ethan Knight returned for his rebuttal closing arguments, he told the jurors that if they had any doubt, “It is not a reasonable doubt.”
In discussing the two ‘Navy Seals’ he reminded the jury that they “are instructed” that informants cannot be a part of a conspiracy. Basically, he is telling the jury that the informants are to be considered a non-issue.
He continued to hit at the points made by the defense attorneys. The exception was the US Mail vehicle that Kohler brought up. This is the only issue that Knight could not refute.
It sounds like this woman hit a home run.
The case is officially with the jury and their deliberations will begin in the morning.
The Bench Trial for the remaining misdemeanor charges will also take place tomorrow.