LAS VEGAS (AP) - A lawyer says a militia leader standing trial in Las Vegas drove to Nevada to help a rancher in a grazing dispute with the federal government because he believed people were in danger and he had to help.
Cliven Bundy arrested by FBI in Portland, Photo Date: 2016 Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff
Defense attorney Ryan Norwood told a jury on Wednesday that Ryan Payne never pointed a gun at anyone and remained with states' rights figure Cliven Bundy - miles away from where protesters confronted U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents in an armed standoff.
Norwood says Payne worked to keep people safe, and keeping people safe is not a crime.
The lawyer describes Payne as a U.S. Army veteran who served two deployments in Iraq, and says he left his family at home in Anaconda, Montana, to go to the Bundy ranch in April 2014 after seeing reports of federal agents using dogs and stun guns against Bundy family members.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's eldest son says he believes protesters and self-styled militia who arrived after government agents mistreated his family members ahead of a gunpoint showdown in April 2014 saved his life.
Ryan Bundy is serving as his own lawyer at trial that started Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Amid declarations of his love of family, the land, God, Americans, liberty and freedom, the 45-year-old father of seven choked with emotion as he told jurors during his opening statement Wednesday that he saw snipers pointing rifles at him and the Bundy family homestead before help arrived.
Bundy told the jury he believes the support and protection he received saved his life.
He denied anyone conspired, coerced, threatened or impeded U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents.
Instead, he says, clashes between armed government agents and Bundy family members prompted armed and unarmed strangers to arrive from around the country.
Cattleman and states' rights figure Cliven Bundy's eldest son plans to go before a jury to provide firsthand allegations of government misconduct ahead of an armed standoff that ended a federal roundup of family cattle in 2014.
Ryan Bundy is serving as his own attorney, and is due to make an opening statement Wednesday in proceedings in Las Vegas.
Trial started Tuesday with the top federal prosecutor Las Vegas casting him, his brothers and his father as leaders of a conspiracy to enlist a self-styled militia to block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from removing Bundy cattle from public rangeland.
In pretrial hearings, Ryan Bundy raised questions about FBI camera surveillance of the Bundy family homestead, and challenged federal prosecutors to turn over recordings of any videos that were made.
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