Is the Prosecution Case Collapsing?
by Shari Dovale
The Bunkerville retrial in Las Vegas has several interesting updates today.
The prosecution has stated that they have finished presenting their witnesses, however they will not formally rest their case until the next time they see the jury, which is expected at 9am Thursday morning.
The jury questions for the final witness, Special Agent Willis, were very interesting and seemed to show that the jurors are getting a bit annoyed at the behavior of the judge.
Some examples of the jury questions include a juror wanting to know why the FBI was involved in this case at all, since it was a BLM operation. Judge Navarro refused to ask that question in open court and told the jury that it was not relevant for them to know the answer.
Another question referred to whether or not defendants Drexlar and Stewart had had any direct communications with anyone (outside of the current defendants) prior to April 12, 2014.
AUSA Myhre was at a loss when he heard of this question, knowing that he should object but not quite sure how to do it for the jury. After dancing around the answer, it was a clear “No”.
The reason that the jury has been given the day off is that Judge Gloria Navarro wants the defense to ‘proffer’ their witnesses first to her so that she may rule whether or not their testimony is relevant. Navarro wants to know what they have to say, so she can decide if the jury will be allowed to hear the testimony.
Navarro is making every attempt to shut down the defense before they start. This includes the testimony of Dennis Michael Lynch, former FOX News reporter. Lynch was called by the prosecution in the first trial this past spring, though the testimony did not go quite as well as they had hoped.
Lynch had video, as well as personal testimony, that showed the excessive force by the BLM to the protesters. The prosecution has made the decision not to call him during this trial, as expected, so the defense has called him. Navarro seems to be trying to find a way to keep him from testifying.
Rich Tanasi, attorney for Steven Stewart, wants to put witnesses from the wash up to testify. The prosecution has objected, though the defense argument is that the government has brought into question the mood of the crowd. This point was made several times.
During the arguments, the prosecution made the statement that they had never alleged conspiracy of the 410 people in the wash. However, they forgot the fact that they have been threatening everyone as “Unindicted Co-conspirators”.
They have made the claims during this trial, as well as the previous trial. They used these threats to keep witnesses from testifying. These claims were made outside the presence of the jury.
This goes to show that the prosecution wants to eat their cake and have it too. They use the claim that everyone is an “Unindicted Co-conspirator” to get around heresay objections.
We know that Judge Navarro will grant their motions, effectively shutting down the defense.
Another way that Judge Navarro seems to be going out of her way to help the prosecution is through her insistence that the defense can file a 29A motion early.
Rule 29. Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal
(a) Before Submission to the Jury. After the government closes its evidence or after the close of all the evidence, the court on the defendant’s motion must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. The court may on its own consider whether the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. If the court denies a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the government’s evidence, the defendant may offer evidence without having reserved the right to do so.
Judge Gloria Navarro made every attempt to get the defense to file a “29A” motion today.
A 29A motion is a motion to acquit the defendants on the basis of insufficient evidence. The charges each have several elements, and all elements must be proven before the charge can be sustained.
Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States
(Title 18, United States Code, Section 371)
a. Assault on a Federal Officer, in violation of Title 18, United
States Code, Section l ll(a)(l) and (b);
b. Threatening a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, in violation of
Title 18, United States Code, Section l 15(a)(l)(B);
c. Use and Carry of a Firearm In Relation to a Crime of Violence,
in violation of Title 181 United States Code. Section 924(c);
d. Obstruction of the Due Administration of Justice, in violation
of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1503;
e. Interference with Interstate Commerce by Extortion, in
violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951; and
f. Interstate Travel in Aid of Extortion, in violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Section 1952
Under (b) it states: Threatening a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. It can be argued that the government did not prove this element as they have multiple videos, Facebook posts, etc that show the defendants desired a non violent resolution. They did not want the altercation with the BLM or FBI.
The government might attempt to argue that the threat was implied. However, it will be up to the defense to argue the point.
The problem with Judge Navarro trying to make the defense file and argue the 29A motion is that the government has not rested it’s case yet. They do not intend to rest it’s case before the jury returns on Thursday.
If the defense files their motion prior to the government resting their case, then they will be giving the prosecution carte blanche to continue presenting evidence against their clients. The prosecution will know every point that the defense can make against them, therefore it will be malpractice for the defense attorneys to file this motion too soon.
But Judge Gloria Navarro is still showing her bias. It is not inconceivable that she will bully the defense in to filing this motion prior to the prosecution completing their case.
She has to see that the government’s case has taken a severe turn towards the South. That could be why she has doubled down against the defense.
Please pay attention to this travesty of justice. This case is a very important case, not just for the other defendants waiting for their turn in court, but to the citizens of this country. Every citizen of this country will be effected by the outcome of this trial.