An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Defense Rests Its Case In Malheur Trial

By Conrad Wilson (OPB), Bryan M. Vance (OPB) and Laurie Isola (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Oct. 17, 2016 6:35 p.m.
In this file photo, people enter the federal courthouse in downtown Portland on the first day of the trial of seven occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

In this file photo, people enter the federal courthouse in downtown Portland on the first day of the trial of seven occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB

The defense rested its case Monday afternoon in the trial of seven people who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. The prosecution followed with a brief rebuttal case.


Earlier in the day, Fabio Minoggio — a government informant who went by the name “John Killman” at the refuge — testified about his role in the occupation.

"I was asked to oversee the shooting range," Minoggio testified, though he did not specify who requested he do that. He said he taught firearm safety and "proficient use of a firearm." Minoggio said he was on the refuge from Jan. 23–26. The leaders of the occupation were arrested by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26.

Minoggio also said the federal government reimbursed him for the purchase of a ballistic vest and when his truck broke down on the way to the refuge. Beyond that, Minoggio said he was not paid.

"It was freely given. I wasn't enticed or anything," he testified of his cooperation with the government.

The defense had identified Minoggio — by way of his alias — as one of the 15 confidential informants the government said it used during the occupation.

Related: Malheur Trial Defense Team Seeks More Info On Government Informants


The defense has argued that whether or not those informants were all at the refuge matters because it speaks to the credibility of what the informants saw.

Although U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown denied the defense’s request to release the identities of the confidential informants, the prosecution did tell the jury there were nine FBI informants at refuge at various times from Jan. 4 to Jan. 26. Of the six unidentified informants, the last one left the refuge by Jan. 23, prosecutors said.

After the defense rested its case, prosecutors began their rebuttal case.

Harney County Sheriff's Deputy Lucas McLain testified he was not at a Jan. 2 meeting among occupiers where they announced their intention to take over the refuge. Defendants had testified that a deputy, whom they identified as McLain, was at that meeting. McLain told the court that at the time of the meeting he was south of Burns on patrol with another deputy.

Refuge manager Chad Karges testified that no refuge employees or contractors were at the refuge from the end of December until mid-February. He said after Jan. 7 all the refuge employees were removed from the Burns area. The defense had said that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee was present at the refuge in early January. Karges' testimony contradicted that claim.

Jury instructions begin Tuesday, followed by closing statements. Some of the alternate jurors wrote a note to Brown to see if audio of jury deliberations could be piped into another room so they could listen in. Brown said she has never had such a request, adding "I don't believe it can be granted."


This article was updated at 4:45 p.m. with information about the defense resting its case and rebuttal testimony from prosecution witnesses.

This article was updated at 2:35 p.m. with testimony from Fabio Minoggio.