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For the second time this year, the federal government tried and failed to convict four men who joined the high-profile Bundy family in its 2014 standoff with federal agents in a dispute over grazing fees for cattle.
A Las Vegas jury acquitted two of the four men on trial, Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart, on all 10 charges against them.
The jury found the other two defendants, Scott Drexler and Eric Parker, not guilty on most charges, but it could not reach verdicts on four charges against Parker and two charges against Drexler. The government has not said whether it plans to retry them.
Prosecutors characterized the six as the least culpable of 19 co-defendants arrested in early 2016 and charged in the case, including Bundy family members. With the release of Lovelien and Stewart, 17 are still in federal custody.
The current jury deliberated four full days after more than 20 days of testimony. The six men and six women returned no verdicts on four charges against Parker — assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer and two related counts of use of a firearm — and also hung on charges of assault on a federal officer and brandishing a firearm against Drexler. Navarro declared a mistrial on those counts.
None of the defendants was found guilty of a key conspiracy charge alleging that they plotted with Bundy family members to form a self-styled militia and prevent the lawful enforcement of multiple court orders to remove Bundy cattle from arid desert rangeland in what is now the Gold Butte National Monument.
Eric Parker and Scott Drexler were released to a halfway house last night with not guilty verdicts on most of their charges and the jury hung on some (four for Parker, two for Drexler).
Today at a detention hearing in Las Vegas an animated and angered Acting US Attorney Stephen Myhre, the lead prosecutor in the case, insisted the men were dangerous and a threat and should remain in custody.
But the judge (US District Judge Gloria Navarro) decided after juries failed to convict the men at their first two trials, they will be allowed to go free ahead of the third trial.
With conditions for their release, Parker and Drexler are expected to be freed and allowed to return to their homes in Idaho.
These are past figureheads of conservatives who have gone completely limp and suddenly decided they either dont want to work or just care less.