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Harney County Sheriff, Refuge Manager To Testify Wednesday At Malheur Occupation Trial


Armed occupiers have disrupted community life for residents in Burns, Oregon, said Harney County Sheriff David Ward.

Armed occupiers have disrupted community life for residents in Burns, Oregon, said Harney County Sheriff David Ward.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Harney County Sheriff David Ward takes the stand Wednesday morning as the first witness for the prosecution in the ongoing trial of seven former occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ward’s testimony, which is expected to last about 90 minutes, will touch on the buildup to the occupation.

Ammon Bundy, the leader of the occupation, visited Ward several times with some of the same people who were indicted by prosecutors — Ryan Payne, who has since pleaded guilty, was among that group. Ward’s testimony is expected to outline those meetings for the prosecution’s case against the defendants.

Listen: The latest episode of “This Land Is Our Land” breaks down the opening statements

Ward will more than likely discuss the interactions he had with Ammon Bundy leading up to the armed occupation, and testify about what it was like being the sheriff of the county during the occupation.

Ammon Bundy
Hometown: Emmett, Idaho
Awaiting Trial

Leader of the Malheur refuge occupation. Ammon Bundy was acquitted in Oregon and awaits trial in Nevada.


Another thing to watch is how the defense cross-examines Ward. There are seven defense teams, so at least in theory there could be seven separate cross-examinations. That’s not likely to happen, though, as it’s more likely that the defense is going to pick one person to lead the cross-examination. Then, if some of the defendants have specific follow-up questions, their attorneys can ask those questions on their clients’ behalf.

Depending on how the flow of the day goes, jurors could also hear testimony from Chad Kargas this afternoon. He’s the manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, so he’s going to testify that federal employees were impeded from doing their jobs, addressing the central charge prosecutors have levied against the defendants.

What work was prevented? Why didn’t employees go to the refuge during the occupation?  Kargas is expected to answer questions like that in his testimony.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Trial

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