Ryan Bundy shows up to Las Vegas trial in limo, is ready to repr - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Ryan Bundy shows up to Las Vegas trial in limo, is ready to represent himself

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Opening statements began in the trial of Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants. Opening statements began in the trial of Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants.

Opening statements began in the federal trial of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a co-defendant in a 2014 armed standoff against government agents.

Prosecutors alleged the 71-year-old Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne led a self-styled militia to stop federal agents at gunpoint from enforcing court orders to remove Bundy's cattle from public land.

Cliven Bundy's attorney, Bret Whipple, said the four men didn't conspire with anyone, some weren't present at the site of the alleged crimes, and some didn't wield weapons. No shots were fired in the standoff near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees to a federal government that he maintains has no authority over land in the states.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre said the focus of this case should be the way the Bundy family intimidated officers and incited violence, not about the strong beliefs that incited the standoff. He said officers were forced to release cattle and surrender the positions they were duty bound to protect because they were outnumbered, outgunned, and surrounded by militia.

"Are we going to be governed by law and order or by the end of a gun?" Myhre said. "Nobody wanted to die over cattle."

"I feel like in this country we stand for something that's greater than the individual," Whipple countered. "We stand for something. That's the basis for what all of us want, and that's happiness ... and I think at the end of the day that comes through protest."

Whipple argued that some of the protesters carrying weapons during the Bunkerville standoff were actually undercover FBI agents. He also said the Bundy family was entitled to protect private property ripped out by dump trucks. 

Federal prosecutors have twice failed to win full convictions at trial of men who had guns during the tense confrontation.

The current trial is expected to take four months.

Bundy family's principles stay strong during trial

Cliven Bundy and Ammon Bundy appeared in front of the jury wearing red jumpsuits instead of the standard suit and tie worn by most defendants. Ryan Payne elected to wear formal attire.

"If you look at a person that's in a jump suit you're maybe going to treat them a little differently, but at the end of the day I respect Cliven's decision that he wants to be who he is. That's his decision, not mine, and I accept it," Whipple said. "They don't want to suggest that they're something they're not, and when they're in custody they want the world to know they're in custody. They would feel like they're trying to deceive somebody if they put on street clothes when they were in custody."

Ryan Bundy, who is representing himself, said after Tuesday's proceedings. He said he has been sleeping in a halfway house, instead of a jail cell, preparing for trial. He arrived on Tuesday morning in a stretch limousine. He left the courthouse holding his wife's hand.

"It's a wonderful feeling," he said. "I love my wife, and I've missed her very much."

"I think that was some of his friends that were doing that for him ... he's not the type to ride in a limo," Whipple laughed. "I think he'd probably prefer a horse."

Ryan Bundy was expected to make his opening statement on Tuesday.

"It's hard to hear the lies," he said. "I'm not interested in telling lies, and so I'll be bringing forth the truth, and that's all I want brought forward to the jury. It's the truth."

"I think there's a real energy now that Ryan is out of custody," Whipple said. "He brings a real energy to the group. He's very underrated as his ability to represent himself. We really respect and appreciate what he brings to us as professionals. He's done a great job, and I think he's very compelling."

"Well that's a nice compliment. I never wanted to be an attorney. I still don't, but I do what I got to do to survive," Ryan Bundy replied. "As I knelt and prayed, asking for direction, I felt the Lord tell me to depart from the attorney, and that scared the living daylights out of me, but He said He would direct me and tell me what to say, and He's doing so."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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