Brady Violations Revealed for Malheur Trials
by Shari Dovale
Astarita, a member of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), is accused of lying about firing his weapon on the day that LaVoy Finicum was killed, as well as obstruction of justice.
During his testimony, multiple points were revealed that were never disclosed to the defendants in the two Malheur Protest trials, of which this trial centers around. This information could be considered ‘Brady’ material, which would have been required to be turned over to the defense.
Bretzing explained that there were 2 surveillance planes flying, one at night using infrared cameras, after the shooting. This video will be played in court later, possibly as soon as tomorrow.
The infrared video shows someone wandering around after the shooting kicking the snow looking for his shell casings, then bending over and picking something up. The prosecution has suggested that the person is Astarita and that is when he was picking up shell casings.
The defense, on the other hand, believes that the FBI have a protocol in place to clean up their equipment even before an investigation commences. They have even suggested that there was live ammunition on the ground that needed to be secured before any ‘militia’ members showed up.
Bretzing also revealed that they had over 300 agents in the area. Additionally, the HRT members had been in the area for 2 weeks, staying at a motel in Boise, ID.
Further, Bretzing stated on the stand today that there was a contingency plan for a full on assault on the refuge. This is important because in the previous 2 trials, it was stated that there was no plan.
The rest of the contingency plan was in multiple parts, with one part being an ambush of the leadership while they were on the road. This was accomplished on January 26th.
Another part of the plan was to place roadblocks all around the refuge, believing they could starve everyone out. They would then arrest everyone individually as they exited the refuge. This was to be the next step if the traffic stop had not worked.
Astarita’s defense team chose not to cross examine Greg Bretzing.
The next witness was Travis Hampton, from Oregon State Police (OSP). He was the highest ranking OSP officer on the scene.
Hampton testified that OSP learned about Ammon Bundy’s occupation at the rally, not before.
The defense questioned Hampton on his relationship with “Officer 1”, the man that fired 2 of the 3 fatal bullets at Finicum.
The defense made a big deal of Hampton’s testimony, with lots of cross examination, as they are trying to show that Hampton and “Officer 1” are good friends and that Hampton may very well have covered up any mistakes that “Officer 1” committed. This is one of the multiple defense “theories” of the case.
The final witness of the day was Scott Ward, the Senior HRT member, positioned at “Stop 1”.
The basics of Ward’s testimony were that he gave a command after the shooting to have the road closed. The only vehicles allowed were Law Enforcement or ambulance. The purpose of this testimony was to show that random tires did not pick up the shell casings, which is another of the defense “theories”.
There were no random people walking around picking up shell casings because it was sealed off to everyone other than law enforcement.
The case continues tomorrow.
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