Jury selection begins in Portland today for the trial of Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and six others. They are charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threats or force in the seizure of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January. The Bundys and three others also are charged with possessing a firearm at a federal facility. Ryan Bundy and two others are acting as their own lawyers.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has set aside three days for jury selection, and opening statements are tentatively scheduled to start Sept. 13. The trial may extend from 60 to 90 days.
The refuge seizure ended when the Bundys and other leaders were driving to a community meeting and police arrested them. Robert Finicum, a spokesman for the occupiers, fled, crashed his truck into a snowbank to avoid a police roadblock and was shot and killed by Oregon State Police. Police say he was reaching for a weapon when he exited the vehicle and officers opened fire. The seizure of the refuge had gone on for over 40 days.
The Bundys and five others from the Oregon case have also been charged in Nevada for a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents near their father Cliven’s ranch. The three Bundys are scheduled for a February trial in Las Vegas.
Cliven Bundy drew extensive attention after his sympathizers pointed weapons at agents rounding up his cattle on public land. The U.S. government says he racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid fees and penalties over twenty years.