The twists and turns in the Bunkerville standoff trial defy logic.
Weeks into the federal trial of 71-year-old rancher Cliven Bundy, two of this sons and self-styled militia man from Montana, the judge has decided that all of the defendants should be released from jail to what amounts to house arrest. Ryan Bundy was so released at the beginning of the trial but the judge refused to do the same for the others.
The four have been jailed since February 2016. The judge said she “reweighed” the evidence.
But in a further twist, after previously demanding he be released under whatever terms the court might impose — travel, firearm or GPS tracking restrictions — Cliven Bundy now refuses the offer, with his lawyer saying, “To be released, he would have to agree to conditions. In his opinion, he’s not willing to take a deal with the government when he hasn’t done anything wrong to begin with. … He’s very principled and he doesn’t want to violate those principals and I respect that,” according to High Country News.
This the third trial growing out of an April 2014 confrontation in which the BLM tried to confiscate Bundy’s cattle for failure to pay grazing fees for more than two decades, but backed off when confronted with armed protesters. Originally 17 people were charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers among other things. The defendants have claimed they were simply exercising their First and Second Amendment rights, but the judge has refused that to be used as a defense.
So far in this case two have been acquitted by a jury, two have pleaded to a misdemeanor and released on time served, one pleaded to conspiracy charge and faces up to six years in prison, another was convicted and sentenced to seven years another was convicted and sentenced to 68 years in prison and still another was convicted and is awaiting sentencing but faces up to 30 years.
The trial of six more defendants, including two more Bundy sons, Dave and Mel Bundy, is scheduled for 30 days after the current trial ends, which is expected to last into February, unless something else odd happens.