Sheriff Joe Lombardo expected to testify in Bundy trial - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Sheriff Joe Lombardo expected to testify in Bundy trial

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Opening statements began in the trial of Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants on Nov. 14, 2017. (Sketch by Stewart Freshwater) Opening statements began in the trial of Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants on Nov. 14, 2017. (Sketch by Stewart Freshwater)

Attorneys struggled to finish questioning what was supposed to be a "brief" witness on the second week of the federal trial of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a co-defendant in a 2014 armed standoff involving government agents.

Prosecutors alleged the 71-year-old Bundy led a group of militia to stop federal agents at gunpoint from enforcing court orders to eventually remove Bundy's cattle from public land. No shots were fired in the standoff near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The U.S. Attorney's Office must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that protesters assaulted federal officers, threatened federal officers, intimidated federal officers, and obstructed justice.

Terry Petrie, an attorney working with the environmental division of the Department of Justice, told jurors on Monday that he has handled multiple civil cases involving Bundy's refusal to move cattle off of federal land. He testified that six judges have ruled against Bundy, yet the rancher still refused to move his livestock.

"The government has shown commendable restraint in allowing this trespass to continue for so long without impounding Bundy's livestock," Petrie read aloud from a court order.

During the civil litigation process, Petrie spoke to Bundy under oath and asked what the rancher meant when he said he "would do whatever it takes" to stand up for his rights. According to a transcript, Bundy said he would physically interfere with agents if necessary.

At one point, prior to 2014, Bundy compared himself to an American revolutionary standing up to British tyranny. He also compared himself to Rosa Parks.

"I have to take same front seat and stand up for my rights today," Bundy said, according to court documents.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Bret Whipple asked if Petrie ever felt intimidated by Bundy's statements. Petrie said he did not feel threatened and that he respects Bundy. Instead, he said he knew it would "be an interesting challenge" if Bureau of Land Management agents impounded Bundy's cattle.

Petrie was set to return to the stand on Tuesday to finish cross-examination.

Sheriff, BLM agents set to testify 

After Monday's proceedings, nobody who was at the armed standoff in Bunkerville had testified. One of the key witnesses, Special Agent Rand Stover, has been scheduled to testify in this week.

Stover was not the BLM agent in charge of the operation to impound Bundy's cattle, but he is the highest-ranking BLM agent that will likely be made available for testimony in this trial. Special Agent in Charge Dan Love, who faced disciplinary issues with the BLM and eventually separated from the department, has not testified in any other hearing.

Whipple said, if possible, he would like to change that.

"Well I think (the government is) trying to hide him. I think at the end of the day, they're trying to keep him from us. So we're doing our best to find him and bring him in. I think the jurors have a right to know what happened from the top down," Whipple said. "Dan Love has a history, which will come out in this case, of really being over the top when it comes to law enforcement."

Attorneys said they predict Sheriff Joe Lombardo will testify, but did not give a timeline. He was in Bunkerville on the day of the alleged crimes as an assistant to then-Sheriff Doug Gillespie. 

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