Militants Who Grabbed Fed Building Won't Like This

Dwight and Steven Hammond turning themselves in
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 3:01 PM CST
A private sign welcomes visitors to the Diamond Valley, part of the Harney Basin in southeast Oregon, in mid-December 2015.   (Les Zaitz/The Oregonian via AP)
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(Newser) – Two ranchers whose legal woes spurred an armed takeover of a government building in Oregon are reporting to prison today to serve their sentences—but will ask President Obama for clemency, the Oregonian reports. Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, is facing up to five years and son Steven, 46, around four years for their 2012 arson convictions. "Dwight and Steven Hammond respect the rule of law," their attorneys said in a statement before the Hammonds arrived at a California prison. "They have litigated this matter within the federal courts for over five years and ... followed the order of the court." The Hammonds have already served "the entire sentences imposed in this case by the judge who heard the evidence at trial," the statement adds.

The statement also says—and NPR concurs, quoting court documents—that the judge at sentencing called elderly Dwight's five-year sentence a "shock [to] the conscience." Yet the Hammonds have publicly denied wanting the help of armed ranchers led by Ammon Bundy, who took over a building at a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon this weekend, KOIN6 reports. The father-and-son ranchers set fire to their property in 2001 and 2006 to guard against invasive plants and wildfires, but the fires spread onto Bureau of Land Management property in both cases, according to court documents. (The militia-style ranchers vow to stay "for as long as it takes.")

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