Bunkerville Defendant: Jurors Will Be Biased Against Gun Owners After Vegas Shooting

By Conrad Wilson (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Oct. 3, 2017 10 p.m.

A defendant who pleaded guilty to last year's occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is asking a judge to delay his trial in Nevada, set to begin next week.

Related: Refuge Occupier Ryan Payne Explains Why He Wants To Reverse Guilty Plea


Ryan Payne has also been charged for his role in a 2014 armed standoff between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management.

In a court filing Monday, Payne's attorneys argued Sunday night's shooting in Las Vegas — which killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 — would prejudice potential jurors and make it difficult to assess the credibility of government witnesses.

"The horror of this recent shooting is too recent, and the impact of this incident on the community is too severe, for a fair trial to commence next week," Payne's attorneys wrote.

They've asked the judge delay the trial, which would take place in Las Vegas, by at least 60 days.


"This is not the time to pick a jury and commence a trial in this case," Payne's attorneys wrote. "It is clear that this unprecedented act of violence will prevent the defendants from having a fair trial in this city one week from now."

Payne pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in the 41-day long armed standoff in eastern Oregon.

He has been charged in Nevada with numerous counts, including conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. The charges stem from a 2014 armed standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and ranchers in Bunkerville, Nevada.

"The shooting has immediately led to a discussion about guns, with negative attention on a perceived laxity of gun laws and on persons who choose to bear and carry high-powered firearms, as is legal in Nevada," the court filing states.

Many supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy have argued that their actions in Nevada and Oregon were supported by their constitutional right to own and carry firearms.

Payne's attorneys also argue in court documents it will be difficult for jurors to assess the credibility of law enforcement witnesses.

"First responders have been (justifiably) praised for their response to the shooting," the attorneys wrote.

Payne's attorneys said the FBI and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo have been involved in the shooting investigation and also serve as witnesses for the government in the trial over the Bunkerville incident.