Bundy withdraws release appeal in Malheur takeover

Motion withdrew, lawyers say will revisit later

Ammon Bundy in an appearance in US Federal Court in downtown Portland, Jan. 29, 2016 (Abigail Marble/Courtroom Sketch)
Ammon Bundy in an appearance in US Federal Court in downtown Portland, Jan. 29, 2016 (Abigail Marble/Courtroom Sketch)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The lawyers for Malheur Wildlife Refuge militia leader Ammon Bundy withdrew his appeal to be released from federal custody, but the appeal of 2 others accused was heard — and one was released.

Bundy’s lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey, said they will revisit the appeal at another time.

In a statement read by his attorneys after he withdrew his appeal, Bundy said: “Because of the restrictions of solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, I have not been able to speak to my father. I am requesting that the four remaining protesters go home now so their lives are not taken. This will allow the FBI and OSP to also go home and end their armed occupation of Burns in Harney County. Then Harney County sheriff should cordon off the refuge as the citizens work on returning these lands back to Harney County and the state of Oregon as prescribed in the Constitution. It is simple, the land belongs to the people.”

The appeal for two other jailed militia members, Peter Santilli and Joseph O’Shaughnessy, went forward in front of U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman.

Complete coverage of the militia at Malheur

Joseph O’Shaughnessy

In his case, Judge Stacie Beckerman ruled last Friday O’Shaugnessy could be released with conditions, but federal prosecutors appealed.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, O’Shaughnessy’s attorney, Amy Baggio, wrote that U.S. Pretial Services submitted a report on Friday that recommends he be released.

Joseph O'Shaughnessy in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (KOIN sketch artist)
Joseph O’Shaughnessy in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (KOIN sketch artist)

O’Shaughnessy’s lawyer argued on Tuesday he did not agree with the occupation of the refuge and went there to de-escalate things; didn’t stay at the occupation; didn’t actively participate in it; and encouraged communication with law enforcement to reach a peaceful conclusion.

His lawyer also presented statements from Ammon and Ryan Bundy that confirmed O’Shaughnessy opposed the takeover.

Judge Mosman affirmed Judge Beckerman’s earlier ruling to release the 43-year-old O’Shaugnessy. For now, he ruled, the government hasn’t met its burden showing O’Shaughnessy is a danger to the public.

He will be put on release supervision, including no contact with any co-defendants. The former firefighter and EMT will be monitored through a GPS and will remain on home detention.

He is expected to be released around 8 p.m. Monday.

Pete Santilli

On January 29, Judge Beckerman said she might also release citizen journalist Pete Santilli. But she said it’s a close call and wasn’t ready to make an immediate decision.

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Santilli, a right-wing online talk show host who embedded with the militia from the moment the occupation of the refuge began, came to Oregon from Ohio for the original protest through the streets of Burns and stayed.

In the hearing before Judge Mosman on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said there was no combination that would ensure Santilli would appear for court hearings if he was released.

Prosecutors also presented concerns over Santilli’s mental health, concerns made by the pre-trial release officer.

The US Marshals Service is investigating Santilli for threats made towards a federal judge in Florida, federal officials said. They are concerned over Santilli’s statements that could indicate federal agents might be shot if they raided his house.

Government officials are concerned Santilli won’t listen to the requests of law enforcement if he is released from custody until trial.

Santilli’s lawyer, though, claimed there is no basis for the allegation he threatened a federal judge, comments he likely made on his online radio show. They

Additionally, the defense said Santilli believes he was arrested in “retaliation” for being a “throne” in the side of the FBI.

His life-business partner, Deborah Jordan, was called by the defense to refute the claims about his mental health and has owned a home and business in both California and Ohio.

But Judge Mosman did not immediately rule on Santilli’s request for release. He said he wanted to review the context of Santilli’s comments about shooting federal officers, as well as comments about burying his weapons when he was ordered to turn them in following a restraining order.

The next hearing for Santilli will be at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Photos: Armed militia at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

The others involved

On Monday, a formal order was signed by Beckerman that granted the release of Shawna Cox. She was released on Friday evening.

Jon Eric Ritzheimer also appeared in federal court in Arizona on Tuesday.

He will remain in federal custody after a judge held off ruling on prosecutors’ request to keep him detained as he awaits trial.

Ritzheimer of Peoria, Arizona, was a vocal presence in the occupation in Oregon before leaving to visit his family on Jan. 25. The FBI arrested him the next day in Arizona.

Ritzheimer faces a federal felony charge in Oregon of conspiracy to impede federal officials in their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Ritzheimer’s repeated rejection of federal authority makes him a flight risk and unsuitable for court-ordered supervision.

To date, 11 people have been arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony. A preliminary hearing has been set for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland. During the preliminary hearing the U.S. Attorney’s Office may offer testimony to establish probable cause, and the defense attorneys may provide evidence on behalf of the accused.

If the magistrate judge finds probable cause as to the commission of the crime, as well as the accused’s role in it, the defendant is bound over for further proceedings by a grand jury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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