Jury seated in second Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover trial
A jury has been selected in the second Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial.
Twelves jurors and four alternates from around Oregon will hear the case and ultimately decide the fate of the four defendants on trial.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown interviewed more than 50 jurors on behalf of the government and the defense before dismissing some for hardship. Then federal prosecutors and the defense further winnowed down the jury through peremptory challenges.
Despite international news coverage of the 41-day occupation near Burns, the first high-profile trial of the occupation leaders and the surprising verdicts in October, the jurors said during voir dire they either didn't know about the incident or hadn't formed an opinion about what happened.
"I don't know that much about what happened," said one female juror who was selected to serve on the jury.
Another man selected said for years he was dismissed from serving on juries because others depended on him for their employment. Now that he's retired, he said, it's his turn to give back. "I really didn't pay any attention to it," another female juror selected to serve. "I just got fed up with the news."
A male juror, who said he served on juries during both civil and criminal trials, said he's avoided the news. "I enjoy being part of the legal process," he said.
Defendants Duane Ehmer, Jake Ryan, Darryl Thorn and Jason Patrick have been charged with a federal felony — conspiracy to prevent federal employees who worked at the refuge from doing their jobs. Some have also been charged with a weapons charge. The defendants are also facing misdemeanor charges, like trespassing.
Opening arguments begin Tuesday, Feb. 21. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.
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