Two were acquitted
For the second time, a jury refused to convict participants in the Bundy ranch standoff in 2014.
Tuesday, not only did a jury find Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart not guilty, but they were acquitted of all charges. Scott Drexler and Eric Parker were also found not guilty on most charges. They were accused of threatening and assaulting federal agents in the cattle roundup that turned into a states’ rights battle.
From the Las Vegas Sun:
In a stunning setback to federal prosecutors planning to try the Bundy family patriarch and two adult sons later this year, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges, and delivered not-guilty findings on most charges against Scott Drexler and Eric Parker.
More than 30 defendants’ supporters in the courtroom broke into applause after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Lovelien and Stewart freed immediately and set Wednesday morning hearings to decide if Parker and Drexler should remain jailed pending a government decision whether to seek a third trial.
“Random people off the streets, these jurors, they told the government again that we’re not going to put up with tyranny,” said a John Lamb, a Montana resident who attended almost all the five weeks of trial, which began with jury selection July 10.
“They’ve been tried twice and found not guilty,” Bundy family matriarch Carol Bundy said outside court. “We the people are not guilty.”
A trial held earlier this year rendered a similar verdict:
A first trial earlier this year lasted two months and ended in April with a different jury finding two defendants — Gregory Burleson of Phoenix and Todd Engel of Idaho — guilty of some charges but failing to reach verdicts against Drexler, Parker, Lovelien and Stewart.
Prosecutors characterized the six as the least culpable of 19 co-defendants arrested in early 2016 and charged in the case, including Bundy family members. With the release of Lovelien and Stewart, 17 are still in federal custody.
The current jury deliberated four full days after more than 20 days of testimony. The six men and six women returned no verdicts on four charges against Parker — assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer and two related counts of use of a firearm — and also hung on charges of assault on a federal officer and brandishing a firearm against Drexler. Navarro declared a mistrial on those counts.
None of the defendants was found guilty of a key conspiracy charge alleging that they plotted with Bundy family members to form a self-styled militia and prevent the lawful enforcement of multiple court orders to remove Bundy cattle from arid desert rangeland in what is now the Gold Butte National Monument.
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