Charges dropped in Ruby Ridge case

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                                              FBI Sniper Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi             Weaver Family


Charges Dropped in Ruby Ridge case
Thu Jun 14 18:11:03 2001

Charges dropped in Ruby Ridge case
Prosecutor: FBI sniper will not go to trial in shooting death

SPOKANE, Wash., June 14 — An FBI sniper who shot
and killed the wife of white separatist Randy
Weaver at Ruby Ridge will not be tried in an
Idaho courtroom, an Idaho county prosecutor
said Thursday. Last week, a sharply divided 9th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that FBI
sniper Lon Horiuchi could face trial on an
involuntary manslaughter charge for the death of
Vicki Weaver in the 1992 standoff.
BOUNDARY COUNTY, Idaho, Prosecutor Brett Benton
issued his decision in a news release from his Bonners
Ferry, Idaho, office. He gave no reasons.
The involuntary manslaughter charge had been filed by
Benton’s predecessor, Denise Woodbury. She lost to
Benton in last year’s election.
Special Prosecutor Stephen Yagman, a Los Angeles
attorney appointed by Woodbury to handle the case, said
he did not take part in the decision against prosecution.
“Were there to be a different prosecutor in Boundary
County, the charge, or more severe charges such as
second-degree murder, could be refiled,” Yagman is quoted
as saying in the same news release.

The Ruby Ridge case was seen as a test of whether
federal agents are immune from state prosecution. The
federal government declined to prosecute Horiuchi, but last
week’s 6-5 ruling by the appeals court cleared the way for
Idaho prosecutors to pursue charges against him.
The appeals court agreed with Boundary County
attorney Ramsey Clark, who argued in December that
immunity cannot be granted until there is an evidentiary
hearing to determine whether Horiuchi acted unlawfully.
If a judge ruled that Horiuchi acted unlawfully, then the
case could go before a jury.
Horiuchi’s attorney, Adam Hoffinger, was out of the
country and not available for comment Thursday.
No one answered the telephone at Randy Weaver’s
Iowa home on Thursday.

The standoff near Bonners Ferry prompted a
nationwide debate on the use of force by federal agencies.
It began after government agents tried to arrest Randy
Weaver for failing to appear in court on charges of selling
two illegal sawed-off shotguns.
The Weaver’s cabin had been under surveillance for
several months when the violence began with the deaths of
Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan, Weaver’s
14-year-old son, Samuel, and the Weaver family dog,
During the standoff,
Horiuchi shot and killed
Weaver’s wife and
wounded family friend Kevin Harris. Witnesses said the
sharpshooter fired as Vicki Weaver held open the cabin
door, her 10-month-old baby in her arms.
Horiuchi has said he didn’t see Vicki Weaver when he
fired at Harris, who was armed and was ducking inside the
cabin. He also said he fired to protect a government
helicopter overhead.

The appeals court appeared troubled with the case.
Those in dissent said the majority was using hindsight in
“dissecting the mistakes” of Horiuchi.
They called the majority’s opinion a “grave disservice”
to FBI agents and argued that Horiuchi, who is still an FBI
agent, should be immune from prosecution.
The standoff ended after Harris and Weaver
surrendered. Both men were acquitted of murder,
conspiracy and other federal charges. Weaver was
convicted of failing to appear for trial on the firearms
The Justice Department last summer settled the last civil
suit stemming from the standoff. The government admitted
no wrongdoing, but paid Harris $380,000 to drop his $10
million civil damage suit.
In 1995, the government paid Weaver and his three
surviving children $3.1 million for the killings of Weaver’s
wife and son.

Prosecutor declines to prosecute FBI sniper in Ruby Ridge case

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