By CHERI ROBERTS for Challenging the Rhetoric
In a ruling on pretrial conference motions, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, with one exception, excludes any evidence of Pete Santilli’s conduct and statements to counter-protesters and media in the government’s case against him and 25 other individuals. According to the 26-page document, the evidence in question is not directly relevant to the alleged conspiracy to impede federal officers by force, intimidation, or threat.
Brown’s exception is a video in which Santilli tells a counter-protester “better not bring a butter knife to a gun fight.” In the document, Brown says this statement by Santilli is admissible because it is relevant to the government’s theory as to the purpose of the possession of firearms by the occupiers charged in the conspiracy.
Santilli is one of 8 individuals heading to trial on September 7, for his involvement in the 41-day heavily armed takeover and occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) near Burns, Oregon. Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Jeff Banta, David Fry, Kenneth Medenbach, Neil Wampler, and Shawna Cox will also be facing a jury. Other individuals under indictment in the Oregon Standoff, who have not taken a plea deal, go to trial on February 14, 2017.
Whether evidence documenting Santilli’s conduct and/or statements will later become admissible, basically depends on whether or not Santilli can, will, or should, keep his mouth shut.
Santilli believes himself to be an “advocacy journalist” and “shock jock” thus far holding firm that he was at the refuge only as a reporter.
Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that intentionally and transparently adopts a non-objective viewpoint, usually for some social or political purpose. He believes he was practicing his first amendment rights as a citizen and member of the media and offered up approximately 10-hours of videos in his defense.
Brown ruled the videos would be admissible in a pared-down version, however, the court notes the admission of this evidence would independently permit prosecutors to offer counter-evidence in rebuttal.
However, Brown also ruled that if Santilli “testifies, argues, or introduces” evidence that his role at MNWR was “merely as a reporter” and not a member of the alleged conspiracy, the government could then argue this challenge and the evidence against his claim would become admissible to the court and available to the jury.
Brown’s ruling wipes out much of Santilli’s current defense and seemingly alludes that no concessions will be made regarding Santilli’s profession and “just a reporter” posturing.
Early last month Santilli’s girlfriend and co-host Deb Jordan said he’d rather spend 20-years in prison than spend 6-years and plead guilty to something he didn’t do. She noted that Santilli was very adamant about that and said that he was going to take his case to the jury. Jordan also said the government has offered Santilli a deal several times, but he’s continued to say, “no”.
Will Brown’s latest ruling change his mind?
DOCUMENT: Order Re: Pretrial Conference Motions
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