JUDGE DISMISSES ONE OF THE GUN CHARGES AGAINST AMMON BUNDY, 7 CO-DEFENDANTS
SOURCE: OREGON LIVE
A federal judge has dismissed the charge of using and carrying firearms in the course of a crime of violence against Ammon Bundy and seven co-defendants, finding the underlying conspiracy charge doesn’t meet the legal definition of a “crime of violence.”
The ruling dismissing Count 3 in the federal indictment is the first major win for the defense in the pending case stemming from the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown issued a 16-page written ruling Friday afternoon, finding that the umbrella charge of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their work at the refuge through “intimidation, threats or force” doesn’t necessarily mean that the conspiracy must involve the “threatened use of physical force” against a person or property.
She noted that the word “intimidation,” for example, could apply to threats of nonviolent harm to property.
Further, a “threat” under the conspiracy allegation could involve the blackmailing of a federal officer to prevent the federal officer from doing his or her federal duties — a threat that doesn’t necessarily require “threatened use of physical force,” the judge wrote.
So, if the underlying conspiracy charge isn’t restricted to a “crime of violence” but encompasses a “broader swath” of conduct, then the count that charged eight refuge occupiers with using or carrying firearms in the course of “a crime of violence” should be thrown out, the judge ruled.