LAS VEGAS (CN) — Brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy on Friday refused to participate in a federal hearing with their father and 13 other defendants charged with 16 felonies arising from their April 2014 standoff with federal agents.
“They are not cooperating” and “will not walk into the courtroom,” Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Javier Jimenez told U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen.
“They don't want to be shackled,” defendant Peter Santilli called out, bringing a rebuke from the judge.
“You don't get to speak on their behalf,” Leen told Santilli.
Santilli shouted at the judge again after the three-hour hearing ended, and other defendants chanted that they were resisting “tyranny.”
Leen allowed the brothers to listen to the hearing from another room.
The motions hearing centered on response to federal prosecutors’ motion to hold the trial in three phases.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden filed a motion to sever in November, asking the court to conduct the trial in three phases, the first being the “leaders and organizers” of the standoff. They are Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Santilli and Ryan Payne.
The second trial would be “mid-level leaders and organizers and follower-gunmen,” identified as Dave Bundy, Mel Bundy, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods and Micah Johnson.
The final group would be “follower-gunmen:” Ricky Lovelian, Todd Engel, Gregory Burleson, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler and Steven Stewart.
Leen asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre why those who are least culpable should wait the longest.
Myhre responded that the first trial would establish the facts of the case, resulting in greater efficiency and speedier trials for all.
"We want to minimize spillover as much as possible," Myhre said.
Most defendants filed responses to the motion to sever, with most saying they prefer to be tried as a single group. Barring that, many indicated a preference for being among the first group of defendants to go to trial, which has been set for Feb. 6, 2017.
Cliven Bundy said he wants to be the last person tried, as he's the oldest defendant and the one most capable of taking care of his family during trial.
"He cares about these people around him," Cliven Bundy's attorney Bret Whipple told Leen.
Co-defendant Payne also filed a request for change of venue, saying political ads by Democrats during the general election cited the Bundy Ranch standoff, and the potential jury pool in Las Vegas is "tainted."
Payne wants the trial held in Reno or Elko.
Leen suggested the potential jury pool in Clark County is much larger and more diverse than in Reno or Elko, but did not rule on Payne’s motion.
Payne also filed motions to eliminate wording he called prejudicial and inflammatory.
Leen made no rulings during the three-hour hearing, which concluded when she refused to hear any more oral arguments on the motions.
"That's why we call this a 'cover-up,'" Santilli shouted as Leen left the courtroom.
Several defendants said in unison: "Resistance to tyranny is devotion to god," and repeated it twice before returning to lockup.
The 17 defendants are among 19 charged with 16 felonies stemming from the April 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. Bundy’s supporters managed to stop the federal government from confiscating 400 head of cattle that Bundy had grazed for years on federal land without paying grazing fees.
Bundy says the federal government has no right to own or control land in Nevada.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 72 months in prison with no chance for early release, plus three years of supervised release and a $500,000 fine.
Cliven Bundy also faces a potential $3 million fine for illegal grazing on federal land.
Two defendants, Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz., and Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, N.H., pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
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