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Militant Duane Ehmer Released From Jail


Duane Ehmer patrols the complex daily with his horse "HellBoy."

Duane Ehmer patrols the complex daily with his horse "HellBoy."

Amanda Peacher/OPB

U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart released Oregon resident Duane Ehmer was released from jail Thursday. Ehmer is one of the 16 indicted militants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“In his case there really is not flight risk,” Stewart said. “I will release him.”

Ehmer will be on home detention and monitored by the court via GPS.

Federal prosecutors agreed that Ehmer’s connections to his home and family in Irrigon, Oregon, were strong and that he didn’t pose a flight risk, but they emphasized their concern Ehmer is a risk to the community. 

As a convicted felon, Ehmer is not allowed to possess firearms. But when he was arrested last month, he was found with two guns and ammunition that police said were buried in hay in a trailer Ehmer pulled behind his truck.

Prosecutor Ethan Knight argued the “conspiracy Mr. Ehmer is alleged to have participated in” remains ongoing and therefore he should remain in custody. Four militants remained at the refuge as of Thursday.

Ehmer’s defense attorney, David Audet, said his client’s “involvement is relatively limited.”

Judge Stewart agreed and said it appeared to her that Ehmer was not the instigator of the occupation at the refuge, but rather “a joiner.”

“If you violate these terms, I’ve notified the U.S. marshals and the appropriate law enforcement to arrest you and bring you back to court without delay,” Stewart said.

Ehmer is one of two Oregon residents listed in the indictment. Kenneth Medenbach of Crescent, Oregon, was the first person arrested in relation to the occupation on Jan. 15.

This story has been updated to clarify that Ehmer was not released on bail.

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