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Jury Soon to Begin Deliberating Fate of Malheur Refuge Occupiers

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Left: Ammon Bundy. Top (left to right): Ryan Bundy, Kenneth Medenbach, Shawna Cox. Bottom (left to right):  David Fry, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler. - MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
  • Left: Ammon Bundy. Top (left to right): Ryan Bundy, Kenneth Medenbach, Shawna Cox. Bottom (left to right): David Fry, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler.
A federal court jury is expected to begin deliberations by day's end in the conspiracy trial of seven defendants, charged with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon last winter.

Acting as his own lawyer, defendant Ryan Bundy began presenting his closing argument to jurors Wednesday morning. He was scheduled to be followed by defense attorneys for the six remaining co-defendants. Per federal court rules, 20 potential jurors have sat through the entire trial thus far. Once the case is handed over for deliberation, eight alternate jurors will be excused, leaving 12 to make the final decision.

During closing arguments on Tuesday, jurors were urged to use "common sense" by federal prosecutor Ethan Knight, who added, "These defendants took over a wildlife refuge and it wasn't theirs."

The Oregonian reports Knight also "ridiculed the suggestion by defendants that any of the refuge employees could easily have shown up to work while the Bundys were using their offices."

Brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Neil Wampler, David Fry, Jeff Banta and Ken Medenbach are charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs at the refuge. Some of the defendants have also been accused of stealing government property and carrying firearms at the refuge.
 
Marcus Mumford, lawyer for Ammon Bundy, argued his client's intent was "to stake claim" to the refuge because there was a "legitimate dispute regarding the ownership of the land."