The federal government outlined its case Wednesday against Ammon Bundy and other militants charged with occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge.
The criminal complaint against the defendants was unsealed at the start of the proceeding. Many leafed through the complaint at the hearing with their lawyers. Others took them when they left the courtroom, as they returned to lockup.
It lists video and written evidence that shows Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Pete Santilli, Shawna Cox, Jon Ritzheimer and Joseph O’Shaughnessy all took part in an armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Defendant Shawna Cox, said she hadn’t read the complaint.
“I need my glasses,” she said. The judge ordered U.S. marshals to return Cox’s glasses so she could read the government’s complaint against her.
Federal prosecutors have charged all of the defendants with felonies related to preventing federal workers from doing their jobs.
All of the defendants except Ritzheimer, who turned himself in to Arizona law enforcement Tuesday, appeared before Judge Stacie Beckerman in Portland Wednesday afternoon.
Upon entering the packed court room, Ryan Bundy immediately turned to the gathered media and asked, “How are you?” He had bandages on both his arms, and wore drab blue inmate clothing.
Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the armed occupation, entered the courtroom with a half smile. He calmly placed his hand on the shoulder of a U.S. marshal, who ushered Bundy to his seat in the center of the courtroom.
The Bundys and several of the defendants were taken into custody Tuesday after being stopped by law enforcement on a rural road between Burns and John Day, Oregon. Police have yet to release details of the arrests.
Federal prosecutors Wednesday argued during the hearing that the defendants should all be detained during the court proceedings because they are part of “an ongoing conspiracy” and could potentially return to the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon if released.
Defense attorneys countered that the defendants mostly did not have criminal histories and should be released on bail. They’ll have a detention hearing on Friday.
All of the militants except for leader Ammon Bundy opted to accept court appointed defense attorneys on the grounds that they could not afford their own counsel.
Ammon Bundy was represented at the hearing by Lissa Casey, an attorney with Arnold Law in Eugene, Oregon.
USA v. Bundy CRIMINAL COMPLAINT
The court papers filed Wednesday alleged that Ritzheimer and another person threatened a federal employee last month.
“Citizen was confronted by two men, one whom she identified as RITZHEIMER. Citizen reported to law enforcement that she heard yelling, and when she turned around, the second individual shouted “you’re BLM, you’re BLM” at her. That person further stated to Citizen that they know what car she drives and would follow her home. He also stated he was going to (burn) Citizen’s house down,” prosecutors wrote in the criminal complaint.
Prosecutors also mention LaVoy Finicum in the document, but did not charge him with any crimes. He’s the Arizona rancher believed to have been killed Tuesday during the arrest operation, though police declined to identify him as the deceased at a press conference Wednesday morning in Burns.
Following the court hearing, Bundy’s lawyers issued a statement, asking remaining militants at the refuge to end their occupation.
“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here,” Bundy said. “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”