Bundys, others plead not guilty to Oregon refuge charges - KPTV - FOX 12

Bundys, others plead not guilty to Oregon refuge charges

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Ammon Bundy, and 15 other defendants standing alongside him, pleaded not guilty in a federal court Wednesday morning.

The group is charged with conspiracy in connection with the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown stressed because of the number of defendants, the complexities of this case and the amount of evidence to go through, this is clearly an unprecedented situation. Nonetheless, she said her goal is to make sure each suspect gets a speedy trial.

On the steps of the federal courthouse Wednesday, the Sharp family sang to inspire supporters of the 16 defendants inside. Among them was 18-year-old Victoria Sharp, who says she was with Ammon Bundy and the others the day they were taken into custody on Highway 395.  Her mother spoke out on her behalf.

“These people are standing for something righteous, for godliness, for our constitution,” said mother Odalis Sharp.  “Justice has not been made, in fact a man was killed.”

Inside of the federal courtroom, Judge Brown stressed that all 16 defendants are innocent until proven guilty, as she read them their rights. 

But, some among the group stood up and told Brown they felt they were being treated like convicts while they remain behind bars, a sentiment echoed by supporters outside the courthouse.

“I think this particular judge is being fair, but I don’t believe they’ve been treated fairly up until now,” supporter Allen Barker, who drove from Salem to sit in on the arraignment, said. “They're to be held this entire period of time, charged and held in custody before the discovery is even presented to their defenses, it’s wrong.”

“I think they should be put out on bail, every one of them,” supporter Kenneth Rhoades said.

The government's investigation at the refuge is now complete, which means Thursday defense lawyers will get their first look at the scene since the occupiers were arrested.

Ammon Bundy's attorneys argued that he should be there under the supervision of US Marshals to point out significant evidence in the case, but Judge Brown did not grant their request.

"Typically, when I have an out of custody client, I bring them places with me because they’re essential to the legal team,” Bundy attorney Mike Arnold said. “Information in real time is vital to doing our job to represent someone.”

Defense attorneys also fought to gain access to evidence FBI agents already removed from the refuge. Judge Brown put pressure on the government to have some 300 to 500 pages of that evidence turned over to all the defense teams by the end of next week.

As of now, the group’s trial is still set to begin on April 29. It is possible, however, that will be pushed back as the U.S. Attorney's office is still considering adding on more charges. 

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