Bundy juror: ‘Not guilty’ does not mean innocent

One of the jurors emailed the Oregonian to explain how the jury came to decision

Prosecutor Ethan Knight addresses the jury during closing arguments, October 18, 2016 (Sketch: Deborah Marble)
Prosecutor Ethan Knight addresses the jury during closing arguments, October 18, 2016 (Sketch: Deborah Marble)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – One of the jurors who acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy emailed a Portland, Oregon, newspaper to say the prosecution failed to prove the fundamental elements of a conspiracy charge.

In his message to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Juror No. 4 said the panel spoke with U.S. District Judge Anna Brown after the verdict and asked why the federal government chose the conspiracy charge when prosecuting those who spent weeks occupying a bird sanctuary in southeast Oregon.

The juror said he learned a possible alternate charge, criminal trespass, wouldn’t have brought as serious a potential penalty.

The juror wrote he is baffled by the negative response from observers shocked by the acquittals, saying “don’t they know that ‘not guilty’ does not mean innocent.”

He says the jurors were aware their verdict might inspire future lawbreaking, but they had to focus on the charge before them.

The names of the jurors are not public.

However, dismissed Juror 11 opened up to the Elkhorn Media Group about his experiences and why he believes he was dismissed.

Curt Nickens said he hadn’t made up his mind on how to vote until deliberations began. It became clear the other jurors had made up their mind and that “swaying his decision or any of the other juror’s decisions to the other side was not going to happen.

Then Juror 4 wrote a note to the judge, and within a day Nickens was removed as Juror 11.

He told the Elkhorn Media Group his background in law enforcement made it understandable “why some would perceive that I would be biased.” But he said he wasn’t.

Nickens noted it wasn’t new information he had previously worked for the Bureau of Land Management 20 years ago. He wonders why Juror 4 wasn’t also removed from the jury, but said he holds all the attorneys and Judge Anna Brown in the highest regard.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.