LAS VEGAS (KLAS) Opening statements continued in the trial surrounding the standoff in Bunkerville Nevada more than three years ago.
Cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon, and Ryan Payne of Montana are on trial for allegedly leading a self-styled militia against U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents in April 2014.
Wednesday was day two of opening statements and the first witness took the stand. She was the former director of the Bureau of Land Management in southern Nevada and talked about interactions the BLM had with Cliven Bundy. His disagreements over public land are at the center of this case.
Ryan Bundy who is representing himself made his opening statement. He expressed he is a family man and said he would do anything to protect and provide for his family. He became emotional several times during his remarks.
Ryan Bundy, his brother Ammon, his father Cliven, and Ryan Payne face nine counts each.
They are accused of being masterminds behind the standoff in Bunkerville more than 3 years ago. The Bureau of Land Management moved forward with the court ordered seizure of Bundy’s cattle which was illegally grazing on public land which is now Gold Butte National Monument. The Bundys put out a call for help.
Supporters showed up, some of them armed. Although a decision had been made to seize operations because of concerns about danger the night before the standoff, the cattle had not been released until after supporters showed up.
Prosecutors say law enforcement officers feared for their lives and they were outnumbered. The defense is arguing peaceful protesters were simply taking a stand.
The long-awaited trial comes after prosecutors twice fell short in previous trials to gain full convictions of six other men who were armed with assault-style weapons during the confrontation.
The trial is expected to last up to four months.