An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Accused Malheur Refuge Occupants Appear In Court

By Bryan M. Vance (OPB)
Portland, Oregon March 9, 2016 5:08 p.m.

More than 20 people charged in connection with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are scheduled to appear in federal court in Portland Wednesday morning.

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Ammon and Ryan Bundy, David Fry, Jeff Banta, Jon Ritzheimer, Ryan Payne and Pete Santilli are among the 25 people who will appear before U.S. District Judge Anna Brown for a status hearing to determine trial dates and whether or not the federal government will get more time to bring additional charges ahead of trial.

The individuals are all charged in connection with the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, which began on Jan. 2, 2016.

The court hearing comes a day after investigators released their findings about the Jan. 26 traffic stop that led to the first major arrests related to the occupation. Occupation spokesman LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot by Oregon State Police during that traffic stop. In a press conference Tuesday, officials said the use of lethal force was justified and "necessary."


Related: 41 Days: An OPB Documentary On The Oregon Occupation

That press conference also revealed that an investigation into two shots fired by FBI agents is ongoing.

As for Wednesday's hearing, federal officials have previously argued for more time to bring additional charges. In Portland earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the government was preparing more charges, but declined to give specifics.

Brown has previously told prosecutors that they need to expedite their pretrial efforts because the accused have a constitutional right to a speedy trial. In a hearing last month, the judge implored prosecutors to work faster following a request for a 90-day extension to bring new charges against the men and women accused of occupying the refuge.

Wednesday's hearing does not involve charges and trial dates in connection with the 2014 standoff with Bureau of Land Management officials at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch. Bundy's sons, Ammon and Ryan, as well as Pete Santilli and Ryan Payne all face additional charges in connection to that standoff.