PORTLAND, Ore. — As prosecutors prepare to rest their case in the federal conspiracy trial of Ammon Bundy and his followers, jurors viewed a video Monday of occupiers using assault rifles to fire at a boat launch on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Assistant U.S Attorney Ethan Knight said the video — pulled from the Facebook account of a Bundy co-defendant who pleaded guilty — rebuts defense claims that the armed occupation was a peaceful protest.
“It’s direct evidence of force,” Knight told U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown when getting permission to show it to jurors.
Bundy attorney Marcus Mumford argued the mere firing of weapons was not an act of force.
Also Monday, several FBI agents testified about evidence recovered after the 41-day occupation.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Chew said he managed the evidence-collection effort that occurred between Feb. 12 and Feb. 23. Sixty-three people searched 23 buildings, 14 privately owned vehicles and nine outdoor areas on the federal property.
When Chew testified about more than 1,000 spent shell casings found at the boat launch, Mumford questioned if there were any targets found.
“Just birds and wildlife,” the agent said.
Mumford asked whether any people got shot at the refuge. No, Chew said.
Bundy and six co-defendants are charged with conspiring to impede federal employees from the refuge through intimidation or threats. Five of the seven are also charged with possessing a firearm in a federal facility.
Prosecutors plan to wrap up their case by Tuesday afternoon. The defense is expected to start presenting its side of the story Wednesday and continue through October.
Bundy’s group seized the refuge Jan. 2 after a protest in support of two ranchers who were returning to federal prison on arson convictions. The protest grew into a call for the federal government to relinquish control of Western lands.