LAS VEGAS — Criminal charges have been dismissed against a Nevada rancher and two of his sons accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled Monday in Las Vegas that federal prosecutors acted with willful disregard for constitutional due process rights of 71-year-old Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.
The judge last month declared a mistrial after a month of proceedings for the same reasons.
Read more: Mistrial announced in Bundy case
Navarro severely criticized prosecutors for failing to properly turn over evidence to their lawyers.
St. George News columnist Bryan Hyde was in the courtroom when the decision was announced. Hyde said:
Everybody kept their composure in the courtroom, but you could hear whispers throughout the courtroom. You could hear people whispering ‘Praise God.’ You could hear sniffles and I saw lots of people wiping away tears. … I know Carol Bundy brought Cliven’s cowboy hat with her when she drove down this morning, so she was really anticipating that this would be a favorable decision. And he (Cliven) will be coming home today.
Hyde said the judge took the government to task on their tactics during the trial.
“She (Navarro) said a new trial would not be adequate to sanction that kind of misconduct,” he said. “So dismissal is justified in that it will address the constitutional violation that took place, it would help to restore judicial integrity and would deter future misconduct. She never raised her voice, but that was a dressing down (of the government) that was really powerful.”
While Ryan Payne is among the defendants dismissed in the Nevada case, he will return to Oregon in the custody of U.S. Marshals for sentencing under a plea deal he made in that case.
A number of defendants remain in the action filed by U.S. prosecutors in the Nevada case, with varying counts remaining and others against those defendants having previously been disposed of.
Those defendants include, according to the court docket on Jan. 8, Peter T. Santilli, Jr. , Melvin D. Bundy, David H. Bundy, Brian D. Cavalier, Blaine Cooper, Gerald A. Delemus, Eric J. Parker, O. Scott Drexler, Todd C. Engel, Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, Micah L. McGuire and Jason Woods.
The collapse of the case is a stunning failure for the U.S. attorney’s office in Nevada, where 19 co-defendants were indicted in early 2016 on charges including conspiracy, obstruction and threats and assault of federal agents in the April 2014 standoff outside Bunkerville.
This is a developing news story.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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