Portland, Oregon; October 27, 2016; A federal judge in the conspiracy trial of seven people who took part in the armed occupation of a U.S. wildlife center in Oregon dismissed a juror over questions of bias on Wednesday, then ordered jury deliberations to begin anew with a replacement.
“It’s a new jury, a new day, a new start,” U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said as she directed an alternate to step in for the disqualified juror, stressing that the reconstituted panel must renew its consideration of the case from scratch.
“They cannot pick up where they left off,” she said.
A jury found brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy not guilty of … their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 300 miles southeast of Portland where the trial took place.
There was a bit of drama in the courtroom after the decision, KOIN reported. Ammon Bundy’s attorney, Marcus Mumford, was taken down by US Marshals who reportedly used a stun gun after the lawyer argued with the judge that his client should be set free. Mumford spent a brief time in custody.
The Bundy brothers and their father, Cliven Bundy, still face federal charges in Nevada for a standoff at the Bundy ranch in 2014.
One of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge defendants, Neil Wampler, told reporters: “We came to Oregon … seeking justice, and we found it today.”
Shawna Cox said the jury’s decision brought her to tears.
“I was thrilled. We all knew we weren’t guilty,” she said.
Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said he was disappointed.
“This is our system and I stand by it,” he added.
Gov. Kate Brown said she respected the jury’s decision.
“The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” she said.
Dozens of people occupied part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns on January 2 after gathering outside for a demonstration supporting Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers who were convicted of arson, and in defiant protest of federal land policies.
Many of the protesters who took over an unoccupied building on the refuge were armed.
One man was killed during an attempted traffic stop weeks into the occupation. The driver of one vehicle, LaVoy Finicum, was shot and killed when he got out and confronted authorities. Finicum is from Arizona and has ties to southern Utah.
Police said Finicum was reaching for a gun in his pocket. Prosecutors said the shooting was justified
Ammon Bundy and others were in another vehicle and surrendered to police.
The occupation of part of the federal wildlife refuge ended peacefully February 11 when the last four occupiers surrendered to authorities.
The seven other defendants are scheduled to go on trial in February.
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