Arizona Republic August 22, 2017:
A federal jury in Las Vegas did not return any guilty verdicts Tuesday against four men accused of taking up arms against federal agents during the Bundy Ranch standoff in 2014.
Jurors dealt government prosecutors a stinging defeat in the case when, after four days of deliberations, they returned not-guilty verdicts on the most serious charges and deadlocked on a handful of others.
Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma and Steven Stewart of Idaho were acquitted on all counts and walked out of court Tuesday night free after spending more than a year in prison.
“Both Ricky and I were teary-eyed,” Las Vegas defense lawyer Shawn Perez said of the verdict, “I was shaking … I have gotten not-guilty verdicts before, but this was really special to me.”
Two other defendants, Eric Parker and O. Scott Drexler, both of Idaho, were acquitted on the most serious charges of conspiracy and extortion, but jurors failed to reach unanimous verdicts on weapons and assault charges.
Both men could be allowed to go free after a detention hearing scheduled Wednesday morning. The court ordered both defendants to be released to a halfway house until Wednesday’s hearing.
The standoff occurred when federal authorities obtained a court order to seize Bundy’s cattle in 2014 for decades of unpaid grazing fees that totaled more than $1 million. Instead, hundreds of supporters converged from around the country to begin an armed standoff with authorities, which resulted in the government backing down.
In 2015, the federal government charged 19 people, including the four defendants cleared Tuesday, for their roles in the standoff. The next trial, according to the Republic, will include Bundy and his two sons.
Federal prosecutors told the Republic they were “disappointed” by the jury’s decision in the case.