Defense Does NOT Rest – Jury Deliberates
by Shari Dovale
The Bunkerville Retrial has gone to the jury to begin their deliberations.
The defense case has been wrought with drama. Judge Gloria Navarro began by forcing the defense witnesses to proffer, or preview, their testimony out of the jury’s hearing. After 4 witnesses testified via SKYPE last week, including a witness that previously was called by the prosecution, Navarro ruled that none of them could testify.
Navarro made the ruling based on her belief that the witnesses were only there to bolster a self-defense claim. She ruled previously that this was not a valid defense in this case.
The following day, Eric Parker attempted to testify in his own defense, as is his right to do. After a few questions, Navarro stopped him from testifying, had him removed from the witness stand, and had his testimony completely stricken from the official court record. She instructed the jury to disregard his testimony, as if he had never been on the witness stand.
Monday brought Scott Drexler to the stand, however, she severely limited him in what he was allowed to say while testifying. He was not allowed to tell the jury why he went to Nevada, nor testify to any of the Constitutional violations that he witnessed.
The jury attempted to question Drexler after his testimony, yet Judge Navarro shut them down as well when she only allowed 4 of 12 questions to be asked. She told the jury that their remaining questions were not relevant and they did not need those answers.
Tuesday began the closing arguments. Nadia Ahmed gave the closing arguments for the prosecution. Some of the highlights from her closing included calling the Bundy cattle “property of the BLM” yet later stating the defendants went to Bunkerville to aid Cliven Bundy in “getting his cattle back”.
Ahmed also accused the defendants of using “travelers to impede officers from eliminating them as a threat.” Well, okay, the defendants did not want to be eliminated, or killed, by the BLM snipers. But the prosecution would have you believe that is the crime.
You are not allowed to defend yourself against BLM snipers?
Several times the defense objected to statements that Ahmed made, and each time Judge Navarro would rule in the favor of the prosecution.
When it came time for the defense to begin their closing arguments, each of the four defense attorneys stood and made the statement, “On behalf of Mr. [Client], we have no closing argument.”
Judge Gloria Navarro never asked the defense to rest their case, and seems to have forgotten the necessity for them to do so. They each sat down and Navarro immediately gave the case to the jury and excused them to begin their deliberations. Now, we have speculation as to the legal issues this brings.
Rich Tanasi, attorney for Steven Stewart, stood after the jury left and requested to make a motion before the official recess, yet Navarro would not allow it. She told him that he needed to file it in writing.
The drama did not end there. It seems that one of the jurors caught the eye of several people, including AUSA Myhre. She was seen ‘blowing a kiss’. She was later brought in front of Judge Navarro, as well as the prosecution and defense attorneys, for questioning.
She claimed that she was blowing a kiss to the alternate jurors, and not any of the participants in the trial. Navarro has allowed her to remain on the jury for the time being.
Speculation is running rampant about the strategy the defense is using by not giving closing arguments. Most believe it was a form of mass protest against Judge Navarro, knowing they would never have gotten through the closings without multiple objections.
Whether or not the jury will understand the protest is yet to be seen. It does seem to resonate throughout the spectators that it was a powerful statement.
The general consensus outside the courthouse is “We pushed the Feds back once again!”
Ahmed included the first half of this video in her closing arguments as evidence against the defendants: