Now Playing:

Stand for independent journalism
and powerful storytelling.

contribute now OPB

News

local | Nation | News | An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Prosecution Rests In Refuge Occupation Trial


Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum carries a rifle after standing guard all night Jan. 6 at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Finicum was killed by law enforcement during a traffic stop on Jan. 26, 2016. 

Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum carries a rifle after standing guard all night Jan. 6 at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Finicum was killed by law enforcement during a traffic stop on Jan. 26, 2016. 

Rick Bowmer/AP

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday in the trial of seven occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, turning it over to the defense who will begin laying out its case Wednesday.

The prosecution began the day with a gun show, presenting to the jury 22 long guns and 12 handguns found on the refuge along with copious amounts of ammunition.

The firepower display was part of the prosecution’s attempt to prove the defendants prevented federal employees from doing their jobs through the use of force, intimidation or threats. Since the start of the trial, government lawyers have shown jurors photos and videos of weapons at the refuge during the occupation.

FBI agents testified the guns were recovered from the West Encampment, an area on the far edge of the refuge headquarters also known among occupiers as “Camp Finicum.” They identified each gun as it was shown to the jury, noting where it was found and whether it was loaded.

Among the guns presented was a weapon registered to Ammon Bundy, recovered from the front seat of occupier David Fry’s car, according to testimony. Fry was the final occupant to surrender to authorities in February.

Defendant Kenneth Medenbach’s attorney, Matt Schindler, objected to the prosecution’s attempt to present ammunition as evidence. He argued everyone in the courtroom could agree ammunition was at the refuge without testimony. Judge Anna Brown overruled the objection, allowing the prosecution to continue.

FBI agent Ronnie Walker testified the bureau recovered more than 18,000 rounds of ammunition at the refuge. That included more than 1,000 spent shell casings recovered from the boat ramp at the refuge. The jury saw a video Monday of what the government argued was Ryan Payne conducting a training clinic of sorts with several men firing weapons. Payne already pleaded guilty in Oregon and still faces charges in Nevada for a standoff with federal agents there in 2014.

Prosecutors have argued throughout their case the Oregon occupation was not a peaceful protest. With Tuesday’s presentation, the government seemed to hope the volume of weapons and ammunition, as well as the types of guns recovered, would illustrate that to the jury.

The defense will begin Wednesday morning with testimony from FBI agents.

Subscribe To 'This Land Is Our Land'

Subscribe to “This Land Is Our Land” on NPR One, Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. Find comprehensive trial coverage at OPB.org/ThisLand.

Share your thoughts on the trial with us on Facebook and Twitter, or by emailing us directly at thisland@opb.org.

Trial

More News

More OPB

OPB has updated its privacy policy. You can find details here.

Related Content