An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Ongoing coverage of the federal case against the people involved in the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and how life has changed in Harney County, Oregon.

A federal judge has thrown out what was potentially the most serious charge facing former occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  

U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown dismissed the charge that eight occupiers used and carried firearms in the course of a “crime of violence.”  

She ruled that the case against Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne and five other occupation leaders doesn’t meet the technical definition of a violent crime.  

Lawyers for the defendants had argued that the weapons charge was actually intended to be used in crimes like armed robberies.  

The weapons charge carried some of the toughest potential sentences for occupation defendants.

Additional court documents filed Friday indicated that occupiers left behind evidence of firearms training, including about 1,685 used shell casings, near a boat launch at the wildlife refuge.  

The court filing shows that the government is seeking the civil forfeiture of 50 guns and ammunition that were seized by federal agents while searching the refuge as well as from the cars and homes of defendants involved in the case.  

A status hearing in the case is set for Wednesday.