Judge to hear release appeal for Ammon Bundy, two others

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge is expected to consider whether the leader of an armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge should remain in jail, even as the standoff that began a month ago continues to roil a rural community in eastern Oregon.

Lawyers for Ammon Bundy say he should be let go with a GPS monitoring device and with orders that the Idaho resident should not leave the state except for court appearances. Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey said in documents filed Sunday that government prosecutors failed to provide “clear and convincing evidence” those steps would not suffice.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman said last week that Bundy, 40, presents a danger to the community and he might fail to return for future court proceedings. Beckerman said Bundy repeatedly ignored federal demands to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and she had little confidence he would comply with orders to show up in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman is expected to consider the matter Tuesday, when he also weighs the potential release of two other members of the armed occupation, Joseph O’Shaughnessy and Peter Santilli. A detention hearing is also scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Phoenix for Jon Eric Ritzheimer of Peoria, Arizona.

Bundy, O’Shaughnessy, Santilli and Ritzheimer are among 11 people arrested in connection with the standoff that began Jan. 2, when the group called federal land restrictions burdensome and demanded the government turn over public lands to local control. Only one, Shawna Cox, has left jail.

Bundy was arrested Jan. 26 during a traffic stop, where police shot and killed Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during a confrontation.

Four people remain at the refuge, surrounded by authorities. On Monday hundreds of people gathered outside the courthouse in Burns, Oregon, both in protest and support of the armed occupation.

Since his arrest, Bundy has repeatedly urged the four people remaining at the refuge to go home. However on Monday Bundy’s father, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, sent a certified letter to the Harney County sheriff saying all federal and state police should be removed from Harney County and that the refuge should be placed under local control.

Cliven Bundy was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.

A makeshift roadside memorial for rancher LaVoy Finicum stands on a highway north of Burns, Oregon Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. Finicum was killed Tuesday night in a confrontation with the FBI and Oregon State Police on a remote road. Four people occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge held their position Sunday. They have demanded that they be allowed to leave without being arrested. (AP Photo/Nick K. Geranios)
A makeshift roadside memorial for rancher LaVoy Finicum stands on a highway north of Burns, Oregon Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick K. Geranios)

The holdouts at the Oregon refuge include David Fry, who has posted updates to the YouTube channel “DefendYourBase,” which the group has used frequently to release information. Fry has said the four want assurances they won’t be arrested and demand pardons for everyone involved.

Bundy’s attorney has said Bundy didn’t recognize Fry’s name and that he wasn’t a core member of the group. The other holdouts are Jeff Banta and married couple Sandy and Sean Anderson.

Those already arrested face a felony conspiracy charge of using intimidation to prevent federal employees from their work at the refuge.

Bundy told the judge Friday that he loves the United States and believes government plays an important role, particularly in providing national security. He said he respected the judge’s authority and would be back for all court proceedings.

Beckerman said Bundy and other occupiers made threatening comments during the standoff, and she was worried he might take over another government building if released.

She ruled that Cox could leave jail — with GPS monitoring — but only after the remaining occupiers leave the refuge. Cox’s public defender, Tiffany Harris, opposed that stipulation, and the Utah woman was released from jail shortly before midnight Friday.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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