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Bundy Ranch standoff participants get off with no guilty verdicts

Not guilty verdicts were issued on Tuesday by a federal jury in Las Vegas for four men who stood “accused of taking up arms against federal agents during the Bundy Ranch standoff in 2014,” according to the Arizona Republic.

After four days of deliberations the jurors returned with not guilty verdicts on the most severe charges and remained “deadlocked” on various others. Two defendants, Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma and Steven Stewart of Idaho, were acquitted of all charges, while the other two defendants — Eric Parker and O. Scott Drexler —were acquitted on some charges and had a hung jury on others.

Disappointed federal prosecutors didn’t offer much after the trial, as a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas simply thanked the jurors for their service. It was the second trial, and the second time jurors were unable to reach a guilty verdict for defendants who had been charged, in relation to the high-profile standoff, according to the Arizona Republic. The Tuesday verdict was actually a retrial of a trial in April that resulted in a hung jury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Armed ranchers as well as militia members faced off against agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after Cliven Bundy had been warned by the agency for decades “to remove his cattle from federal lands and in 2014 obtained a court order to seize his cattle as payment for more than $ 1 million in unpaid grazing fees.”

The Los Angeles Times elaborated on the history of the armed standoff:

The decades-long legal dispute between Cliven Bundy and the government escalated in 2014 when federal agents came to round up his cattle after he refused to renew permits that would have allowed his cattle graze on public lands near his ranch. The government said Bundy had racked up $ 1 million in grazing fees that he refused to pay to the Bureau of Land Management for at least two decades.

Dozens of men from neighboring states, many of whom were armed, descended on Bunkerville and set up military-style camps to stop the government.

Concerned with the possibility of violence, the standoff ended peacefully when officials gave in and left the cattle to graze.

The case became known as the Bundy Ranch standoff.

Bundy and his supporters are expected to go to trial this year over the 2014 confrontation.

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

Charlie May.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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