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No jail time after Ammon Bundy found guilty in Statehouse trespassing case

The jury returned guilty verdicts on one misdemeanor count of trespassing and one for delaying officers.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: This story was originally published by Idaho Press.

Gubernatorial candidate and activist Ammon Bundy was found guilty on Wednesday on one trespassing charge and one charge of delaying an officer.

He received a $3,315 fine and was sentenced to one year of probation on the grounds he does not receive another misdemeanor, after the state said he is a public figure and has not been deterred by past sentences.

He told the Idaho Press he plans to appeal the decision.

Before the verdict was announced, Bundy held up a prize from a fruit snack box. 

“I’ve got my get out of jail free card,” he said as he smiled to his 17 supporters behind him.

The jury deliberated for nearly eight hours, spilling into day three of the trial, which began on Monday. 

"Every time Mr. Bundy does not respect the democratic systems we have in place, every time he violates the law ... He affects our democratic process in a negative way," said Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Whitney Welsh. “If he does not agree with something he will not comply.”

The other charge of trespassing the six-person jury could not reach a unanimous decision on, declaring a mistrial for that count.

“I don’t know if there is anything I could say that would leave an impression on you,” said presiding Judge Kira Dale, before she sentenced Bundy. Dale said any notion Bundy makes to say the court was unfair to him in trial was "disingenuous."

She went on.

"I don't know what more you could ask from this process, as in many ways you abused it," Dale said. She also referenced the video showed in trial of Bundy being handcuffed in the back of a police car, shouting at an Idaho State Police officer.

“I don't know how you could watch that video and not feel regret for your behavior," she said. "Do you really think that threatening him could have been productive?"

However, Dale did compliment Bundy on how well he represented himself in court, and said she appreciated the intellectual debate that the two shared in the past three days.

Bundy had been barred from the Capitol grounds for a year during the special session of the Legislature in 2020.

He returned to the Statehouse in April 2021 and was arrested, then returned a few hours later after his release from jail and was arrested again. 

During the second time he was taken into custody, an Idaho State Police trooper testified at the trial, Bundy went limp and ignored commands to move, so they put him in a cart and wheeled him to the patrol car. 

"I was just sitting there peacefully in the Capitol building," Bundy said, adding that he believes in participating in civil disobedience "peacefully."

"I went in on April 8 to talk to legislators," he said. "I was peaceful again, and I was arrested."

"Ms. Welsh misrepresented the truth to you," Bundy told the judge in closing. He also compared his civil disobedience acts to prominent Black civil rights activists like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., in which Dale said this logic was "misguided" and "misplaced."

Bundy, who was representing himself, defended his case on the backbone of his right to be on public property and the idea that there was no authority vested in the power of the Statehouse administration to issue a letter barring him from the state Capitol and then later arresting him.

Bundy and his supporters remained outside courtroom 410, where they discussed public property rights. They also believed that the state was changing definitions of certain words in the trespassing statute to be able to convict.

Bundy is currently appealing another trespassing conviction from 2020.

This was Bundy’s second trial in nine months.

Misdemeanor criminal convictions do not disqualify Bundy from running for office.

Bundy's most recent run-in with law enforcement came Saturday, when he was arrested for trespassing at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center. Bundy and a few of his supporters were at the hospital disputing what Bundy called a medical kidnapping; Meridian police took a 10-month-old child into custody and admitted him to the hospital after receiving a referral from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that said "medical personnel determined the child was suffering from severe malnourishment."

In the days since, Bundy has called on his supporters to continue protesting the child's medical admission, which Bundy has also called "medical tyranny" and a "terrible injustice." A few dozen protesters gathered outside St. Luke's Boise Medical Center on Tuesday, forcing the hospital to go into lockdown and divert incoming patients. The lockdown was lifted after about an hour.

This story was originally published in the Idaho Press. Read more on IdahoPress.com.

  

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