Prosecutor asks Malheur jurors to use common sense

"These defendants took over a wildlife refuge and it wasn't theirs," prosecutor said

Attorney Marcus Mumford (left) and Ammon Bundy (right) in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)
Attorney Marcus Mumford (left) and Ammon Bundy (right) in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight and Ammon Bundy’s attorney Marcus Mumford gave their closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

The defense rested its case Monday after calling 4 witnesses to the stand. Earlier in the day, the prosecution presented jurors with a written stipulation about FBI informants who were at the refuge during the standoff.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight begins his closing argument, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight begins his closing argument, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)

During his closing argument, Knight urged the jury to use common sense and to consider that the defendants made a choice “to take over someone else’s workplace.” He said the case is about the law, not about the Hammonds or Bunkerville.

He reiterated words said by Ammon Bundy himself, that the defendants had a “unified purpose.” He said the use of guns in the occupation “played an integral role in fortifying that space that does not belong to them.”

“These defendants took over a wildlife refuge and it wasn’t theirs,” Knight said, adding that they kept workers from doing their jobs at the refuge beyond the 41-day standoff.

He claimed law enforcement was willing to deescalate the situation.

Ammon Bundy in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)
Ammon Bundy in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)

In Mumford’s closing arguments, he said he was “counting on [the jury] to stop government overreach.”

He told the court he was honored to represent Ammon Bundy, who he said “does not flee from the law, he embraces it.” He claimed thousands came to the refuge to spark a movement, not to break the rules, but to make the government “see the law.”

“The problem wasn’t with the [refuge] employees,” Mumford said. “It was with their employer, the federal government. It won’t respect its limits.”

Bundy and 6 others are charged with conspiring to impede federal employees from doing their work at the refuge through threats, intimidation or force.

Attorney Marcus Mumford (left) and Ammon Bundy (right) in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)
Attorney Marcus Mumford (left) and Ammon Bundy (right) in federal court, October 18, 2016. (Sketch artist: Deborah Marble)

Mumford reiterated many points that Bundy made when he testified for 3 days earlier this month, including that the presence of firearms ensured the protest wouldn’t be immediately stormed by armed federal agents.

The lawyer said the plan was to take ownership of the refuge by adverse possession, occupying it for years and then turning it over to local officials.

Mumford said Bundy expected government officials to dispute the claim, and that would force them to prove in court they have proper title to the land.

As part of that effort, Mumford said, the protesters made improvements to the refuge and didn’t trash the place as the government claims.

He displayed a photo of an occupier with a broom, supposedly sweeping up rat feces that government workers had allowed to build over time.

“Is it a conspiracy to clean up rat poop?” Mumford asked. “Or it is responsible.”

Knight said in his argument that the plan to stake a claim through adverse possession proves there was a conspiracy.

In the words of Woodrow Wilson, Mumford said, “if you want to make enemies, try to change something.” He also read a quote by John Adams to the jury:

“Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle and fed and clothed like swines and hounds.”

Before closing arguments began, Judge Anna J. Brown spent around 30 minutes reading jury instructions. She told the jurors they “may believe all of what a witness said, some of it, or nothing,” as they deliberate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report