The seven leaders of an armed group who took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon Jan. 2 were found not guilty Thursday of conspiracy and possession of firearms at a federal facility.
As reported by USA TODAY, a jury exonerated brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five other co-defendants of conspiring to block federal workers from their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a standoff that lasted six weeks.
“It’s wonderful – the holy spirit has been listening to our prayers,” Ken Medenbach, defendant, said. “The people have spoken.”
The other defendants were Neil Wampler, Shawna Cox, Jeff Banta and David Fry.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she was disappointed in the jury’s decision.
“The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” Brown said. “I appreciate the due diligence of our federal partners and stand with the communities of Harney County and residents of Burns.”
However, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, who once criticized the Bundys for failing to recognize the collaborative nature of land management in the area, said he supports the jury’s decision.
Eleven co-defendants previously pleaded guilty, and seven more will stand trial Feb. 14.
The standoff brought new attention to a long-running dispute over control of federal lands in the West.
The Bundys are still facing charges in Nevada because of a 2014 standoff with federal agents in which they allegedly attempted to round up cattle owned by their father Cliven Bundy.