Three Malheur Defendants Plead to Misdemeanors

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Three of the final seven defendants in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing charges Monday.

Idaho couple Sean and Sandra Anderson and Dylan Anderson of Utah (not related) pleaded guilty to trespassing in exchange for prosecutors’ dropping more serious gun and conspiracy charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel asked U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown to impose sentences of one year of probation, a $1,000 fine for each defendant and a promise not to occupy federal land.

A fourth defendant, Darryl Thorne, was scheduled to plead guilty Monday but backed out over the weekend.

Thorne, along with co-defendants Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer, and Jake Ryan, will proceed to trial on Feb. 14.

The first trial over the occupation resulted in acquittals for the leaders, including Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan. After the verdict, prosecutors added a handful of misdemeanor charges to the felonies facing the second round of defendants.

Brown decided to rule on the new misdemeanors, instead of letting the charges go to the jury. That may have been what prompted Monday’s chorus of guilty pleas.

After the hearing, Sandra Anderson said she would have preferred to face a jury over the misdemeanor charges.

“God has directed us that our fight in the court is futile and we must move our battlefield again. We must continue educating people on the constitutional rights before they’re long forgotten,” she said.

The Bundys and their followers say they believe the federal government has no right to federal land.

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