Bundy’s and Supporters Released
The third week of the USA v Bundy trial in Las Vegas is showing a pattern. A prosecution witness inadvertently exposes new evidence that the prosecution has failed to provide to the defense. The defense attorneys follow with a flurry of motions to compel the prosecution to produce the evidence and more motions for a mistrial and dismissal of the case due to prosecutorial misconduct. The hearings are then held without the jury in the courtroom and Judge Navarro rules on the motions. Sometimes the court orders the observers in the court gallery to leave when the hearings become “sealed”.
Monday morning started with the prosecution requesting to play a recording of a phone call between Ryan Bundy and BLM Agent Johnson, also evidence the prosecution has failed to share. The prosecution’s witness, Agent Shilaikis, took the stand to tell how he and agent Johnson met Clancy Cox, Cliven Bundy’s son-in-law, on the ranch grazing land on March 17, 2014. At the agent’s request, Cox called Cliven Bundy to inform him of their presence, and of their reason for being at the ranch. The agents were there to inform Cliven Bundy that they had a court order for impoundment of Cliven’s cattle. They were also assessing how the family would react.
A few hours after the agents requested Clancy Cox to call Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy returned the call to agent Johnson’s phone. This phone call was recorded. Judge Navarro initially allowed 10 minutes of that audio recording and rejected an attempt by Cliven Bundy’s attorney Bret Whipple to include the whole 46 minute conversation. The jury heard the 10 minutes of Ryan Bundy’s call.
After vigorous objections by the defense, the judge allowed the jury to hear the entire conversation wherein Ryan Bundy lectured the agents about the Constitution, the BLM and the desert tortoise. The day after the call Ryan Bundy had called Johnson and asked if the previous day’s call had been recorded. Johnson had told Ryan ‘no’. Robert Shilaikis’ admitted under oath that Johnson had lied to Ryan Bundy.
The defense discovered a 2nd recording, this one a video. The video documented agents Shilaikis’ and Johnson’s conversation with Clancy Cox. There had been an attempt to enlist Clancy Cox as a government informant. The judge ordered the prosecution to turn the video recording over to the defense. The entire video was played Tuesday afternoon with the jury present.
On Wednesday the 29th the court began with more hearings about whether federal prosecutors have turned over complete evidence records about the conduct of the FBI and other government agents during the Bunkerville Protest. The court observers were then removed and the hearing was sealed.
Only the judge, prosecution, defense, and court staff were allowed in the court when Judge Navarro reversed her prior rulings on the defendant’s detention hearings. Defense Attorney Whipple said he could not disclose what happened at the hearing, citing a gag order. Judge Navarro stated; “There’s a lot of allegations that remain, a lot of information that’s provided.”
The “Threat Assessment Report” evidence that the defense team had fought so hard to obtain the week before, had been ordered to be turned over to Judge Navarro November the 27th. The government used the FBI “Threat Assessment Report” to justify denial of pretrial release. The prosecutions 1st witness had testified that the report had classified the Bundy’s as “not a threat”.
Judge Navarro has reversed the ruling that kept the defendants in custody. She released Cliven Bundy, Ammon Bundy, and Ryan Payne to a house arrest status with a monitoring devise. Cliven Bundy, who was incarcerated and considered a danger to society and a flight risk for the last 22 months, refused his release until his supporters waiting for trial are released. He also insists that he will walk out as a free man, not to a halfway house.
Judge Navarro had changed release restrictions for Ryan Bundy on Monday the 27th. He has been living at a halfway house in Las Vegas for the last two weeks. He will still wear a GPS monitor but will now stay at a friends’ home in North Las Vegas on court days and his own home in Mesquite the rest of the time.
On Thursday, November 30th, Ammon Bundy was released at the courthouse and greeted by about 60 overjoyed friends and family. Surrounded by his wife Lisa and their children, he was all smiles as he answered a few questions for the media and made his way to the family car.
Defendant Ryan Payne has received clearance for release from Judge Anna Brown in Oregon. Payne plead guilty to a felony conspiracy charge regarding the Malheur Refuge Protest Trial at which Ammon and Ryan Bundy were acquitted of all charges. Payne was released early Friday afternoon and was congratulated by a crowd of supporters waiting outside the courthouse entrance.
Tier 2 defendants have a detention hearing on December 4th. Prosecutor Steven Myhre has agreed to their release if they will agree to obey the pre-trial release agreement. The Tier Two “mid-level” defendants are scheduled as the third and final Bundy Trial group to be tried. The second-tier defendants are Cliven Bundy’s sons; Dave and Mel, and Bundy Ranch supporters; Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier and Jason Woods.
Micah McGuire was part of this group, but plead guilty to two felonies; conspiracy and impeding an officer on November 14th. He was released prior to sentencing scheduled for February 16th, 2018. He had been incarcerated for 20 months.
Ammon Bundy’s attorneys; Morgan Philpot and Rick Koerber, are relying 100% on donated funds. They have an informational website at AmmonBundyDefense.com that includes videos and written information on the case, plus a place to donate. The web site sends email updates of their progress to supporters that register.
Since the beginning of the trial, the court has had a week off scheduled from December 3rd through the 10th. Next court date is December 11th.
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