Judge denies pretrial release for last Oregon refuge holdout

AP News
|
Posted: Mar 04, 2016 6:57 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The final holdout in the 41-day standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge will remain in jail for now.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman agreed with government prosecutors Friday that David Fry is a danger to the community and can't be counted on to show up for trial.

The Ohio man surrendered Feb. 11 after threatening suicide during a tense negotiation that was broadcast online. He has pleaded not guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.

In seeking Fry's pretrial release, defense attorney Per Olson said his client has strong family ties and a job lined up back home. Olson said there's been a lot of "hyperbole" surrounding Fry, but he has good character.

"This is a person who has a tremendous way of making friends wherever he goes," Olson said.

He said Fry wasn't thinking clearly in the last days of the standoff, because he was gripped with fear after police fatally shot fellow occupier LaVoy Finicum during a Jan. 26 traffic stop.

The takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began Jan. 2, with occupiers wanting the U.S. government to relinquish public lands to locals and free two ranchers who they say were wrongly imprisoned for setting fires.

Most occupiers were arrested or left the refuge on their own the night of Finicum's death. Four holdouts remained, none longer than Fry.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said Fry's decision to stay shows an inability to follow directions, and he might skip court appearances. On the issue of danger, Knight recited a statement Fry made during an online broadcast: "I declare war against the federal government."

Knight said FBI agents found five guns and a significant amount of ammunition in Fry's car. Olson said Fry did not bring the firearms to the refuge, and was only storing the weapons of those who left.

The issue of Fry's mental health was raised by both sides, but specifics from a confidential evaluation were not revealed.

___

Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub