PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman who stayed at an Oregon wildlife refuge until the last day of an armed occupation there will be allowed to return home as her case goes through the courts.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart on Friday granted pretrial release to Sandra Anderson, 48, of Riggins, Idaho. The judge said Anderson must relinquish her firearms while awaiting trial on a conspiracy charge and can't have contact with her co-defendants, including her still-jailed husband, Sean Anderson.
Anderson, who has pleaded not guilty, sobbed when told she wasn't allowed to call, text or write her husband.
Government prosecutors said Anderson should remain jailed because she defied orders to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the 41-day takeover. They argued she might not follow instructions to return for future court dates.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said Anderson could also be a danger, revealing that investigators found three firearms in a vehicle she left at the refuge.
Anderson's attorney, Tyl Bakker, said his client was a minor player in the standoff and has no criminal history.
Moreover, Anderson's boss at a Chevron gas station in Riggins is willing to take her back, and the presence of a steady job was a key factor in the judge's decision.
"I need you working full-time," the judge warned.
Anderson and her husband, Sean, came to Oregon to support a weeks-long occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which Ammon Bundy and others launched Jan. 2 to demand the federal government turn over public lands to local control.
Bundy was arrested Jan. 26 during a traffic stop, where police shot and killed Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum during a confrontation.
That night, the government ordered everyone to leave the refuge. Bakker said his client was in an outlying area without cellphone coverage and never got the message. When she discovered almost everyone else was gone, Anderson was shaken, scared and didn't know what to do.
The Andersons and two other people hunkered down another 16 days before finally surrendering.
"She's never been in jail," Bakker said. "The week or so she's been in has been very emotional."