An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Judge Denies Pretrial Release For 'Vulnerable' David Fry

By Conrad Wilson (OPB)
April 4, 2016 8:45 p.m.
David Fry, a 27-year-old from Ohio, was one of the last remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He surrendered Feb. 11.

David Fry, a 27-year-old from Ohio, was one of the last remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He surrendered Feb. 11.

Amanda Peacher / OPB

David Fry was the last occupier of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to surrender to police on an emotionally charged February day.


Some of that emotion carried over to a Monday hearing in Fry's pretrial case, as his defense attorney argued for his pretrial release.

Despite pleas from Fry and his family, Senior District Judge Robert Jones ruled against the 27-year-old's appeal for release.

"I'm going to keep you in custody until trial," Jones said. "I look at you as a very vulnerable person. When you get into tight situations, you act out. That concerns me a lot."

In the final days at the refuge — after Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum had been killed and police arrested other occupation leaders — Fry posted emotional videos online, at times calmly explaining his views on the Constitution, and at others threatening violence against himself or others.

At Monday's hearing, Fry said he had traveled to Oregon from his Ohio home to document the occupation led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy. He also said he decided to stay at the refuge after the Bundys were arrested because he was "the last cameraman."


"I am not whatsoever a violent person," Fry explained to the judge.

He said during his time at the refuge, he removed ammunition from weapons and activated their safeties when they were left in the fire position.

After the FBI arrested Fry, investigators found several weapons in his car. Fry said he was storing those weapons in the vehicle because he couldn't secure them, adding that his car couldn't be moved because it had a dead battery and a flat tire.

Jones discussed Fry's mental health history at length Monday.

In 2009, Fry's father — William Fry, Jr. — called to have his son hospitalized on a mental health evaluation. Fry said his son spent five days detained for the evaluation. David Fry acknowledged he attempted to escape once during the stay.

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Despite that history, William Fry said he would monitor his son if he were released.

Judge Jones rejected that offer, but said he appreciated William Fry coming to testify on David Fry's behalf.

Jones also mentioned during the hearing that he'd received a memo from District Judge Anna Brown's office recently. Brown is a the chief judge overseeing the case against the 26 defendants charged for the Oregon occupation, including Fry.

Brown said she would like the case to go to trial right after Labor Day, and that she is trying to keep all the defendants together as one trial — although that issue remains to be settled.