Jury will only hear felony charges in 2nd Malheur trial

A judge will hear misdemeanor charges separately

Federal Judge Anna J. Brown on the opening day of the trial for the 7 defendants in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial, September 13, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Jurors in the second Malheur National Wildlife Refuge trial will only consider felony charges against the defendants.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ruled Thursday that misdemeanor charges will be heard in a separate trial before a judge.

Brown said in her written opinion that the 12 jurors and six alternates will be devoting an extraordinary amount of time to jury service and adding petty offenses to their plate is not warranted.

The trial stems from last winter’s armed takeover of the refuge in southeastern Oregon. In a trial last fall, jurors found standoff leader Ammon Bundy and six others not guilty of felony charges.

Despite the loss, prosecutors decided to press ahead with a February trial for the seven remaining defendants. They changed their strategy by adding misdemeanor charges such as trespassing to the mix.