A federal jury in Las Vegas refused Tuesday to convict four defendants who were retried on accusations that they threatened and assaulted federal agents by wielding assault weapons in a 2014 confrontation to stop a cattle roundup near the Nevada ranch of states' rights figure Cliven Bundy. In a stunning setback to federal prosecutors planning to try the Bundy family patriarch and two adult sons later this year, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges, and delivered not-guilty findings on most charges against Scott Drexler and Eric Parker, the AP reports. "Random people off the streets, these jurors, they told the government again that we're not going to put up with tyranny," said John Lamb, a Montana resident who attended almost all the five weeks of trial, which began with jury selection July 10.
Supporters in the courtroom applauded after Chief US District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Lovelien and Stewart freed immediately and set Wednesday morning hearings to decide if Parker and Drexler should remain jailed pending a government decision on whether to seek a third trial. A first trial earlier this year lasted two months and ended in April with a different jury finding two defendants guilty of some charges but failing to reach verdicts against Drexler, Parker, Lovelien, and Stewart. Prosecutors characterized the six as the least culpable of 19 co-defendants arrested in early 2016. With the release of Lovelien and Stewart, 17 are still in federal custody, including Bundy family members. (Read more Cliven Bundy stories.)