Prosecution rests in Malheur Refuge occupation case

The trial began September 7

Opening statements in the trial of 7 defendants in the Malheur Refuge occupation began September 13, 2016 (For KOIN: Sketch Artist Deborah Marble)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The prosecution rested Tuesday afternoon in the case against 7 people accused in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The trial began September 7. So far, witnesses for the prosecution included Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, employees and managers at the refuge, FBI agents and other law enforcement officers.

Beginning Wednesday, 7 different defenses will be presented to the jury by the attorneys for the defendants — including Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox and Kenneth Medenbach, who are representing themselves.

The other defendants are Ammon Bundy, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler and David Fry.

‘Presence of firearms a statement of protest’

Matt Schindler, Kenneth Medenbach's stand-by lawyer, outside federal court in downtown Portland, September 27, 2016 (KOIN)
Matt Schindler, Kenneth Medenbach’s stand-by lawyer, outside federal court in downtown Portland, September 27, 2016 (KOIN)

Matt Schindler, Medenbach’s stand-by lawyer, told KOIN 6 News he doesn’t expect they will present “a tremendous amount of evidence ourselves. We anticipate some of the defendants testifying,” as well as some of the ranchers in the community around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The government’s point in the way they’ve prosecuted the case, “is essentially to try and overwhelm people (the jurors) with the presence of firearms out of context.” These individuals, the defendants, are simply exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

There is no evidence, he said, that Medenbach ever held a gun and no evidence that anyone ever pointed a gun at someone.

“Carrying a gun is not the same as pointing a gun at someone,” Schindler said.

“The presence of firearms for these people, in their culture, was a statement of protest. We have a right to make these statements in this place and the only way we’re going to be heard is to make a dramatic statement,” he said. “All the firearms don’t make them guilty of the crime they’re charged with.”

Previously this week

Complete coverage: Malheur Refuge takeover

In court Monday, an FBI agent showed the jury an empty black gun case with Ammon Bundy’s name in block letters that was found in a 2nd-floor office at the refuge.

The agent also displayed a rifle, 5 empty gun cases and evidence bags with more than 1,000 spent shell casings recovered from the area.

In total the FBI brought in 22 long guns found in cars and tents at the refuge. The FBI said thousands of rounds of live ammunition were found throughout the refuge and in vehicles.

Jurors were also shown a video of men using assault rifles to shoot at a refuge boat launch. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight told the court the video proves the armed occupation was not a peaceful protest.

Bundy’s attorney, Marcus Mumford, maintains that the firing of weapons is not an act of force. During his cross-examination, he asked FBI Special Agent Christopher Chew if anyone got shot at the refuge. Chew said no.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

(L-R, top to bottom) Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler, Kenneth Medenbach, David Fry and Shawna Cox. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)
(L-R, top to bottom) Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler, Kenneth Medenbach, David Fry and Shawna Cox. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

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