Jury mulls case of FBI agent accused of lying about gunshots

FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2016 file photo, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, center, a rancher from Arizona, talks to reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. A jury is deliberating whether an FBI agent lied about firing shots at Finicum, a militia leader who participated in the armed takeover of the Oregon wildlife refuge. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports prosecutors and defense lawyers for W. Joseph Astarita made closing arguments and that a jury of three women and nine men began deliberating Thursday afternoon, Aug. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. — A jury is deliberating whether an FBI agent lied about firing shots at a militia leader who participated in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers for W. Joseph Astarita made closing arguments and that a jury of three women and nine men began deliberating Thursday afternoon, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported .

Astarita is charged with making false statements and obstruction of justice after telling investigators he did not fire two shots that missed Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a key figure in the group that seized the refuge in 2016 while protesting the imprisonment of two ranchers.

Astarita pleaded not guilty and denied firing the shots.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Maloney argued Thursday that Astarita was a rookie on the elite Hostage Rescue Team who panicked and fired as Finicum came close to running over his teammate at a police roadblock. Astarita then lied to conceal that he didn't hit his mark on Jan. 26, led by his ego and bravado as a "super agent," Maloney said.

The alleged shots came as authorities tried to arrest Finicum. One shot hit the roof of the truck and the other went astray as Finicum stepped out of his truck, his hands in the air, investigators said.

Oregon State Police fatally shot Finicum seconds later.

Defense lawyer David Angeli countered that the government presented no witness over 11 days of Astarita's trial who either saw or heard Astarita fire shots the day that state police and FBI agents arrested leaders of the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

Prosecutors also provided no forensic evidence that proved Astarita discharged his Colt AR-15, Angeli said.

Astarita had no motive to lie since he'd been told that the Deschutes County district attorney had found all shots fired during the arrests to be justified, Angeli said.

Defense lawyers also said an unidentified state police SWAT officer could have taken the shots.

___

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

You may also interested in

Southern California having smoggiest summer since...

Aug 12, 2016

Southern California sunshine means sparkling beach weather but this summer it's contributing to a...

Prosecutor: Russian man's computer linked to...

Aug 16, 2016

A federal prosecutor told the jury during opening statements on Monday that when federal agents...

Ford to invest $75M in autonomous vehicle sensor...

Aug 16, 2016

Ford and Chinese search engine company Baidu will invest $75 million each in Velodyne, a company...

BACK TO SCHOOL: Enrollment up a bit as kids...

Aug 16, 2016

The lazy days of summer are ending for millions of children as they grab their backpacks, pencils...

Regulators study horseshoe crab survival in...

Aug 16, 2016

Environmental regulators studying the Delaware Bay harvesting of horseshoe crabs that are drained...

The Next Daily is the new generation of online publication, serving you the most recent discoveries made in science and technology on a daily basis. At The Next Daily, we believe in the power of consistent and reliable reporting to inspire and move mankind forward.

Contact us: sales[at]thenextdaily.com