Malheur II – What Judge Brown DID Allow This Week
by Shari Dovale
The case of the second group of Malheur Protesters is getting close to the end. The jury could be sent for deliberations as soon as Tuesday, March 7th.
Witnesses this week included David Duquette, from “Protect the Harvest”, whose interest in the Hammond family had nothing to do with Ammon Bundy. Judge Brown was unsure of allowing him to testify and insisted that his testimony be given out of the jury’s presence before scaling it back tremendously.
Duquette, who produced a video starring Trent Loos, was allowed to testify to seeing no signs of it being unlawful to go to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in January 2016, but not much else.
Though he stated that he was with actually with the Hammonds during the rally on January 2nd, Judge Brown ruled that the Hammond information was not relevant in the case.
Thom Davis testified for the defense. Davis, a rancher from Riley, Oregon about 25 miles from Burns, had heard about the rally on January 2nd, but did not attend. However, he did end up going to the Refuge several times and sympathizing with the Protesters.
Davis, who had already been highlighted in a video during the trial trying to calm down an Arizona environmentalist, ended up being on the Harney County Committee of Safety. Davis repeatedly said during his testimony that the employees from the refuge were not impeded but “They were on vacation,” a reference to the seasonal work common in the northern colder climates.
Davis was able to make a point, to the chagrin of Judge Brown, in that he told the jury that the protesters were “Not Anti-government! Just Anti-Corruption!”
Robert Jones, who traveled from Nampa, Idaho, had his testimony trimmed by Judge Brown to talking about watching Duane Ehmer put away supplies and donations. Though he made at least 3 separate trips to the refuge, he was not allowed to discuss much of his time there.
Michelle Kohler, attorney for Duane Ehmer, called her investigator to the stand to introduce Facebook posts surrounding the governments “Facebook Meme Evidence”. Putting them into proper context was an important step in the defense.
Amazingly, Kohler was also able to sneak into the record a comment that the government has called the protesters “terrorists”. I am surprised that Judge Brown let that one get by her without admonishing the defense, as is typical for her.
Sheriff Thomas Rummel, of Sanders County Montana was allowed to testify, but his testimony was limited to his personal knowledge of Jake Ryan. Having known him for several years, Rummel was only allowed to say that Jake was a very law abiding citizen. “He is the least of my worries in Sanders County,” he stressed to the court.
The longest testimony for the day came from Barbara Berg, who brought her Bible to court for her swearing in. She discussed how she traveled from Winnemucca, Nevada the night that LaVoy Finicum was murdered. Arriving at the RV park known as “The Narrows” she secured a rental trailer. She traveled to the outskirts of the refuge and saw Jason Patrick walking along the road. She gave him a ride to the FBI checkpoint where he turned himself in.
Berg also told of how she went back and saw Jake Ryan, as well. She testified that she took custody of all his weapons and stored them in her rental trailer at the Narrows, where the FBI later retrieved them.
She then took Jake down to the checkpoint and video taped him walking towards the checkpoint with his hands in the air.
When asked about the mood of the people at the refuge that night, she got emotional and started to cry. She explained how tense and scared the protesters were, and afraid for their lives from the FBI.
Berg testified that her point in being at the refuge that night was, in part, to hold the FBI accountable in case of another event like WACO or Ruby Ridge. She was mostly concerned with keeping her friends alive. She was so concerned that she refused to go to the FBI checkpoint herself, as she did not trust them.
Kenneth Medenbach took the stand this week to tell the jury that it was he, not any of the current defendants, that ordered, made, and placed the signage on the BLM office that said “Closed Permanently”. He also took full responsibility for the signage at the Malheur Refuge that renamed the facility to the “Harney County Resource Center”.
At one point, Judge Brown stopped his testimony, without benefit of an objection from the prosecution. She instructed Medenbach to limit his testimony. He first replied that he took an oath to “tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Judge Brown threatened him to have his entire testimony thrown out if he continued, and Medenbach then agreed to scale it back. However, it did initiate the government to request written instructions to the jury on the defense of “Adverse Possession” not being a legal doctrine in this courtroom.
The highlight of the week for many supporters was the admonishment of the court media darling, Conrad Wilson of OPB. After Judge Brown repeatedly slapped down defendant advocates to not taking ANY photos inside the courthouse, Wilson decided he must have been above the ruling. I can understand his confusion, as he is usually the only person allowed to slide into court after it has begun.
However, he blatantly took a photo of Duane Ehmer in his patriotic sportcoat and posted it all over social media. Judge Brown was not happy and admonished him for his presumption.
FBI informant Will Kullman has been avoiding testifying, though he received a defense subpoena in December 2016. Jesse Merrithew had begun the process to have Judge Brown sign an arrest warrant, which she indicated she was inclined to do. The prosecution refused to assist the defense in locating this witness.
The warrant has been stopped, as Kullman has agreed to testify on Monday.
Witnesses for Monday should include Brandon Rappola, Michele Fiore, and Kullman, as well as Blaine Cooper’s father, Stanley Hicks Sr. and his step-mother, Linda Hicks. Coopers’ mother and step-father have declined to testify for the defense.
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