On August 25, 2020, Ammon Bundy and Aaron Von Schmidt were arrested and charged with trespassing at the Idaho State Capitol.
The charge stems from an incident at the Idaho State Capitol during an “extraordinary special session.” During that legislative session, the Lincoln Auditorium was ordered to be cleared, and Bundy and Schmidt refused to leave.
Eventually, Bundy was wheeled out of the statehouse in an office chair and taken to jail.
Both Bundy and Von Schmidt have pleaded “not guilty” to the charge, and their trial began today with jury selection, opening statements, and one of the state’s witnesses.
Judge David Manweiler is the judge for the case and the prosecutor is Whitney Welch.
Prior to the trial beginning this morning, Idaho Dispatch had reached out to Bundy to ask for his thoughts on the trial. Here is what Bundy told us,
Once again the corrupt, crony establishment is attacking me. This is not the first time and it will not be that last, unless I stop standing up for people. I have beat them before and I will beat them again with God’s help. They are afraid of me and they should be because when I am governor, I will put an end to the good old boys club using the states resources to attack innocent people who do not agree with them. I will ensure that the force of law is used properly to protect good people not hurt them.
During the jury selection, many of the potential jurors said they knew Bundy from previous incidents and the incident for which this trial was occurring. Many of the potential jurors also said that they had heard something about the case from the news.
At least one juror was dismissed because he said that he had already formed an opinion on Bundy and it was likely not going to change.
During the opening statements, the state said they would prove that Bundy and Von Schmidt broke the trespassing law beyond a reasonable doubt. They said that Bundy and Von Schmidt felt the rules did not apply to them and that the jury must find them guilty.
Bundy’s attorney said during his opening statement that the evidence would show that Bundy followed the rules and broke no laws. Von Schmidt is representing himself in the case and also said that the evidence would support his innocence.
After opening statements, the state called its first witness, Sgt. Blake Higley with the Idaho State Police, who works at the capitol and was present during the arrests of Bundy and Von Schmidt.
Higley was asked to give his credentials, explain his role at the capitol, and to explain how the capitol building is set up and who controls which portions of the capitol. Higley also described the Lincoln Auditorium where the incident took place and where Bundy was sitting at the time when Higley was ordered to clear the room by House Speaker Scott Bedke.
Finally, before the judge recessed the trial for the day, Higley had described the events he witnessed that day.
As the state began to introduce one of its exhibits, Bundy’s attorney objected to the introduction of a video because they said that the video being introduced was lengthy, and they were not sure what portions of the video was about to be shown.
Prior to releasing the jury for the evening, Manweiler told the jury they were not to discuss the case with anyone, including each other. The judge also told the jury prior to the trial that they would not be sequestered but they were instructed not to search online about the case or the defendants.
The trial will resume tomorrow morning and is expected to last for several days.
Tags: Aaron Von Schmidt, Ammon Bundy, Idaho State Capitol, Lincoln Auditorium