A group of men who supported the Bundy family during an armed standoff with federal authorities in Nevada avoided conviction Tuesday for the second time this year, marking the latest in a series of defeats for prosecutors.
After days of deliberations, a federal jury in Las Vegas acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart on all 10 charges, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported. The jury also acquitted Scott Drexler and Eric Parker on most charges, but was unable to reach an agreement on several others.
On Wednesday, prosecutors announced that they would re-try Drexler and Parker on the charges the jury deadlocked over, the Review-Journal reported. Their new trial date has been set for Sept. 25.
The men had faced conspiracy, extortion, and other charges for participating as armed gunmen in the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nevada, which was led by rancher Cliven Bundy and his family. The standoff began over Bundy's refusal to pay cattle grazing fees, but quickly drew support from people who oppose the federal government.
Bundy and his sons are currently in jail and awaiting their own trial for the standoff.
Tuesday's verdict wraps up the second trial Lovelien, Stewart, Drexler, and Parker have faced in the case. In April, a judge declared a mistrial after a jury was unable to reach a conclusion. Prosecutors then opted to retry the four men, who were accused of traveling from other states to act as gunmen in support of Bundy.
The newly scheduled September trial for Drexler and Parker will now be the third time prosecutors attempt to convict them.
Some of the best-known photos from the standoff show Parker lying on a road and aiming a rifle.
Additional photos show the other men armed and at the scene. Prosecutors had argued the men traveled from other states to conspire with the Bundys, wielding weapons and threatening the lives of federal agents in the process.
The four men were among 19 people arrested in 2016 for their involvement in the standoff.
But prosecutors have hard a time convicting members of the Bundy-led movement. In addition to Tuesday's acquittals and the previous mistrial, prosecutors were unable to convict the leaders of a similar 2016 standoff in Oregon. That standoff also erupted out of anger with the federal government, and was led by Bundy's sons, Ammon and Ryan.
Unlike in Nevada, the Oregon standoff ended after law enforcement shot and killed LaVoy Finicum, one of the leaders.
Prosecutors did manage to convict Gregory Burleson of assault on a federal officer and other charges for his involvement in the Nevada standoff. And in July, Burleson — who had told an undercover agent he was "hell bent on killing federal agents" — was sentenced to 68 years in prison.
A jury also convicted Todd Engel of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion, the Review-Journal reported. He has not yet been sentenced.
During the latest trial for Lovelien, Stewart, Drexler, and Parker, supporters frequently gathered near the courthouse. After the second round of verdicts, some could be seen celebrating with signs and flags.
The Associated Press reported that Tuesday's outcome "stunned" the men's supporters, many of whom began applauding in the courtroom. A judge then ordered Lovelien and Stewart to be freed immediately, according to the AP.
Drexler and Parker were released to halfway houses Wednesday, the Review-Journal reported. Both men are from Idaho and will be allowed to return home, but have to return for their September trial.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at email@example.com.
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