Bundys, others plead not guilty to Oregon refuge charges

Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, smiles as he arrives for a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after meeting with Harney County Sheriff David Ward Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Ward and two other Oregon sheriffs met Thursday with Bundy, the leader of an armed group occupying a federal wildlife refuge and asked them to leave, after residents made it clear they wanted them to go home. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ammon Bundy and another 15 defendants have pleaded not guilty to a federal conspiracy charge related to the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown reminded the defendants Wednesday that they are considered innocent until proven guilty. Several of the accused doubted that assertion. One of them, Jason Patrick, said: “You’re the federal government; you’re going to do whatever you want.”

The judge set an April 29 trial date, though that seems unlikely to occur. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said a superseding indictment with additional charges was likely.

Defense lawyers and their investigators plan to visit the refuge Thursday. It will be their first look at the scene of the 41-day standoff. The judge denied Bundy’s request to tag along with his attorneys.

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