OREGON STANDOFF: THE PRE-TRIAL FIGHT FOR FBI AGENT ACCUSED OF LYING WHEN HE SHOT AT LAVOY FINICUM
The defense lawyers and prosecutors are trying to get what they want in and out of the upcoming trial of FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita, accused of lying about two shots he fired moments before Oregon State Police killed Oregon Standoff protester LaVoy Finicum on January 26, 2016.
A federal judge ruled last week that prosecutors won't have to share records on three earlier shootings involving an Oregon State Police SWAT trooper.
Defense lawyers want to argue that it was the Oregon trooper who fired the two shots Astarita is accused of lying about and they had hoped to use records of previous shooting incidents to make a case for their argument.
The prosecutors gave the defense the trooper's training records, but don't have to provide the additional information.
Prosecutors want to keep an Oregon State trooper who was most distant from the shooting from testifying about comments he made afterwards stating that one of the other trooper's shots hit LaVoy Finicum's truck. Part of the prosecutions lying case is that one of Astarita's shots hit the roof of Finicum's truck
Defense lawyers have asked that the prosecution not be allowed to mention disappearance of emails and text messages among the five member FBI Hostage Rescue Team unit Astarita was part of.
A Department of Justice Office of Inspector General special agent said that while the emails and texts are missing, they vanished because of a "systemic data retention issue at the FBI" and there was no misconduct by the FBI agents.
The defense lawyers are also trying to block testimony at trial about an anonymous fax sent to the DOJ's Inspector General on May 31, 2016 which alleged that a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team was not telling the truth and said the investigation cannot be complete without information from four other witnesses.
FBI Agent Astarita is charged with three counts of making a false statement and two counts of obstruction of justice. The trial is set to begin with jury selection on July 24th. Astarita is not charged with attempted murder for shooting at Finicum nor charged with injuring Ryan Bundy, a passenger in Finicum's truck. Bundy was treated for a shrapnel wound at a hospital afterwards.
A federal prosecutor said Ryan Bundy made unreasonable demands when an offer to remove the shrapnel for investigation was made to him to help with their lying case against Astarita.