Four defendants accused of multiple charges related to the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff were found not guilty on nearly all counts against them on Tuesday. And federal prosecutors did not discuss their intention to continue to pursue charges against two defendants for whom jurors deadlocked on multiple charges.
The Arizona Republic first reported the news Tuesday.
In 2014, Cliven Bundy and scores of militia members from around the country staged an armed protest against the government seizure of Bundy’s cattle. Bundy had for years refused to pay required fees for his use of public land for cattle grazing. Federal agents elected to return Bundy’s cattle at the time, though he was eventually arrested in 2016 after traveling to Oregon in response to his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundys’ armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Bundy and 18 others were charged in relation to the Nevada standoff. The four individuals largely found not guilty on Tuesday — Richard Lovelien, Steven Stewart, Eric Parker and O. Scott Drexler — were not the most prominent participants in the standoff. Trials for the standoff participants, though they face the same charges, were broken into tiers based on “their alleged levels of culpability in the standoff,” the Arizona Republic reported.
Lovelien and Stewart were acquitted on all counts, the paper reported. Parker and Drexler were acquitted on conspiracy and extortion charges, the report added, but jurors deadlocked on charges of weapons and assault charges. The Los Angeles Times reported that the jury deadlocked on four charges against Parker and two against Drexler.
“At this time, the government has not announced its decision regarding the retrial of Eric Parker and O. Scott Drexler,” a spokesperson for the Las Vegas U.S. Attorney’s Office said, according to the Arizona Republic.
The defense did not make closing arguments before the jury’s decision Tuesday, the paper noted, in protest of what they viewed as onerous restrictions by Judge Gloria Navarro of what they could discuss on the stand. Those restrictions included arguments on First and Second Amendment grounds and complaints about federal overreach. The issue at hand, prosecutors reportedly said, was the protesters’ threatening of federal officers.
Two defendants were found guilty of multiple counts related to the standoff in April, the Arizona Republic reported at the time. Navarro declared a mistrial at the time following a jury deadlocked over the fates of Lovelien, Stewart, Parker and Drexler.
The next trial will include three Bundys — Cliven and his two sons, Ammon and Ryan — in addition to others.