Aug. 23 (UPI) — Two men were acquitted, for the second time, of charges related to the armed standoff between federal agents and rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014.
Jurors in a Las Vegas court acquitted Ricky Lovellien and Steven Stewart of 10 federal charges, including conspiracy, weapons possession, assault and threatening federal officials during the standoff at Bundy’s Bunkerville, Nev., ranch. Verdicts in four charges against two other defendants, Scott Drexler and Eric Parker, were not reached by the jury. The government has not announced if it will retry Drexler and Parker, who were found guilty on the other charges.
The jury deliberated for four days after a 20-day trial. The Bundy standoff is regarded as symbolic of what some people call federal overreach in the control of public land, particularly in the West.
The verdicts are a setback for the federal government in its prosecution of Bundy and his supporters.
The decades-long dispute ratcheted upward in 2014, when Bundy refused to pay a $1 million bill for at least 20 years of grazing fees. His livestock grazed on public land and Bundy refused to pay for permits.
Dozens of men arrived at the Bundy ranch and established an armed, military-style encampment in protest; the government eventually retreated, citing the possibility of violence. Bundy and some of his followers will go to trial later this year over the 2014 incident.
Earlier this year, another jury said it was deadlocked on all counts in a trial of Lovellien, Stewart, Drexler and Parker. Two other defendants were convicted.