LAS VEGAS (AP) — The eldest son of jailed Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy asked again Friday for a chance to argue that he’s no threat to others and wouldn’t skip town if he’s released from custody ahead of his trial on charges stemming from an armed standoff with federal agents at his family’s ranch.
“They are holding me, and have been holding me, for almost a year based on lies,” Ryan Bundy told U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr.
“The truth will set me free,” the defendant said — in an apparent echo of a biblical passage.
Foley said he’ll make a written decision soon but didn’t say when.
Ryan Bundy, 44, is serving as his own attorney in Nevada, just as he did during a six-week federal trial in Portland, Oregon, where a jury acquitted him, his brother, Ammon Bundy, and five other people of conspiracy and weapon charges in a 41-day occupation of a federal wildlife refuge.
In Oregon, Bundy sometimes clashed with the judge about what she termed “frivolous matters” and issues that had been previously decided. He said during closing arguments that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere — echoing the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King.
Ryan and Ammon Bundy both refused earlier this month to enter a federal courtroom in Las Vegas for a lengthy pretrial and date-setting hearing before a different magistrate judge.
The brothers and their father are among 17 people jailed while awaiting trial on conspiracy, obstruction, weapon, threat and other charges. Two other defendants have pleaded guilty and remain in federal custody awaiting sentencing.
Trial is slated to begin Feb. 6 in Las Vegas for the first six defendants, who prosecutors characterize as “followers and gunmen” in the tense 2014 showdown that blocked a federal Bureau of Land Management round-up of Bundy cattle from public land.
Trial for the accused conspiracy leaders and organizers — Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and co-defendants Peter Santilli and Ryan Payne — is set to start 30 days after the first trial ends.
Ryan Bundy on Friday labeled the incident outside Bunkerville as “the so-called standoff” and called it “completely non-violent.”
He said he believes that if he gets a chance to question prosecutors, character witnesses and his family members under oath, he can convince the judge that he’s not a threat and would attend future court appearances.