Jury refuses to convict in Bundy ranch standoff
A federal jury in Las Vegas refused Tuesday to convict four accused gunman in a 2014 standoff with federal authorities near the Nevada ranch of states' rights figure Cliven Bundy.
In a verdict that delivered a stunning setback to federal prosecutors, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges against them.
Defendants Scott Drexler and Eric Parker were found not guilty of most charges against them. The jury did not reach verdicts on four charges against Parker and two charges against Drexler.
The results stunned a courtroom full of the defendants' supporters, many of whom broke into applause after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Lovelien and Stewart freed immediately.
The judge set a hearing Wednesday to decide whether to free Parker and Drexler pending a decision by prosecutors whether to try them for a third time.
Prosecutors said the men conspired with Bundy family members and wielded weapons to threaten the lives of federal agents enforcing lawful court orders to remove Bundy cattle from public land after he failed to pay grazing fees.
Each man standing trial in Las Vegas faced 10 charges including conspiracy, interstate travel in aid of extortion, weapon possession and assault and threatening a federal officer.
Combined, the counts carried the possibility of more than 100 years in federal prison.