ROCHESTER - The wife of the Rochester man imprisoned in Nevada for his involvement in the 2014 armed standoff at the Cliven Bundy ranch said today she and her husband were both "elated" that an Oregon jury had found two of Bundy's sons along with five others innocent in a similar standoff that occurred at a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon last winter.
Susan DeLemus, a New Hampshire state rep and wife of Jerry DeLemus, said she had spoken to her husband since the verdict came down on Thursday and they were both thrilled with the acquittals.
"He is elated that this jury was so brave," she said.
All seven defendants in the case were charged with conspiracy to impede federal employees from discharging their duties. They were also facing federal weapons charges that carried additional prison time.
With the acquittals, however, it wasn't immediately clear how soon they might be released. Ryan Bundy also faces a theft of government property charge for allegedly removing cameras mounted at the refuge at the height of the standoff.
In a bizarre twist, Ammon Bundy's defense lawyer was taken to the courtroom floor and reportedly tased by federal marshals after he got in a heated exchange with the judge over when his client might be released.
Jerry DeLemus, meanwhile, already pleaded guilty for his part in the April 2014 standoff on federal lands where Cliven Bundy had grazed his cattle and was engaged in an ongoing land dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights.
He is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and to interstate travel in aid of extortion, according to federal court records.
However, as a result of the acquittals Gerry DeLemus has withdrawn his guilty plea from this summer, according to a Union Leader story today. His trial will now likely commence next February.
DeLemus, a local Tea Party activist, also traveled to the wildlife sanctuary at the Malheur Reserve in Oregon last winter trying to bring a peaceful resolution to that standoff.
Not long after he returned to Rochester, Lavoy Finicum, a spokesman for the group who seized the wildlife sanctuary, was killed on a remote Oregon highway as he and others tried to leave the occupation site. The shooting was condemned by occupiers and supporters.
Just as in the Oregon standoff, DeLemus, a Marine veteran, has long said he went to Nevada to defuse the situation, not escalate it.
However, the feds saw differently, charging him in a March 3 indictment as a midlevel leader and organizer of the Bundy standoff, who, among other things: recruited, organized, trained and provided logistical support to gunmen and other followers and organized and led armed patrols and security checkpoints from April 12 till the end of May 2014 on and about the disputed grazing lands and Bundy ranch in southeastern Nevada.
The original indictment charged him with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, assault on a federal officer, obstruction of justice, attempting to impede or injure a federal law enforcement officer, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and several firearms charges, for which he could have been sentenced to life in federal prison.
He was arrested on March 3 as several FBI vehicles full of armed agents in full tactical gear with weapons drawn swarmed his Rochester condo.
The Bundy standoff was an armed confrontation between protesters and law enforcement that developed from a 20-year legal dispute between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada cattle rancher Bundy over grazing rights on federal land in southeastern Nevada.
Some 19 suspects have been indicted in the standoff. In August DeLemus became the first to accept a plea deal in the case.
He is currently being held at a Henderson, Nev., federal detention center while he awaits sentencing.
Asked whether she thought the Oregon jury's acquittal might have a positive impact on her husband's impending sentencing, Susan DeLemus refused comment, however, she did commend them for their courage.
"I am thrilled that these citizen, common people, who sat on the jury had that voice, that strength," she said. "I believe the jury did the right thing, they are the most improtant body we have, the last defense by citizens against a corrupt government."
Susan DeLemus, who is running for re-election to the Strafford District 11 house seat on Nov. 8, also urged citizens to learn more about jury nullification, a conceit laid out in the Constitution that insists juries can return a not guilty verdict not only based on evidence but also if they feel a law is unjust.