An Ada County prosecutor on Monday told a seven-person jury that Ammon Bundy, a gubernatorial candidate in Idaho and far-right activist, disrespected authority when he entered the Idaho Capitol in April. It was about four months before his ban from the building would have expired.
Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Whitney Welsh kicked off Bundy’s trial with her opening statement. She said the public has established governmental systems — police, politicians, and other agencies — to carry out the people’s business.
“They can take that agency and exercise the authority that we grant them to exercise on our behalf,” said Welsh, who was the lead prosecutor on Bundy’s last trial. “This case is about one person — Ammon Edward Bundy — who chose on one day, April 8, 2021, to not respect that authority.”
Bundy appeared in Ada County Magistrate Court on Monday for trial, his second in nine months, for three misdemeanors.
In April 2021, Bundy was arrested twice in one day for entering the Idaho Capitol while under a one-year ban from the building after he was arrested in August 2020 for refusing to leave the Lincoln Auditorium at the Capitol during a special session. He was charged with two counts of trespassing, his second offense within five years, and resisting or obstructing officers’ arrests and seizures.
After almost five hours of jury deliberation, a seven-person jury — made up of four women and three men — was selected on Monday to determine Bundy’s innocence or guilt in what will likely be a three- to four-day trial. Bundy chose to reserve his opening statement until later.
In July, a jury found Bundy guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting or obstructing officers related to the Lincoln Auditorium arrest. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and $1,089 in fines.
Bundy was arrested again on suspicion of trespassing on Saturday after he failed to leave the property in relation to a child welfare case. An arraignment has yet to be set, according to online records.
Prosecution’s first witness banned Bundy
Department of Administration Director Keith Reynolds was the first witness called by the prosecution as he oversees the Idaho Capitol where the trespassing occurred. Under Idaho Code, particular floors of the Capitol building are maintained by certain officials.
“I am intimately familiar with the Idaho Capitol,” Reynolds said on the stand. “I have been in every nook and cranny — mechanical room to the top of the dome.”
Reynolds added that he is also familiar with the “legal structure” of the Capitol, which includes rule making. Reynolds — in discussions with Gov. Brad Little, Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke and then-Idaho Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, he said — banned Bundy from the Idaho Capitol after he trespassed during a legislative special session in August 2020.
In April, Bundy was caught on the second floor of the Idaho Capitol, which was a violation of the August 2020 letter that banned Bundy from the building for a year. He was arrested and booked into Ada County Jail on the trespassing charge that day.
Two hours later, Bundy returned to the Capitol.
An Idaho State Police trooper spotted Bundy on the third floor and arrested and booked him again, police previously said. During both arrests, state police confirmed Bundy was uncooperative and was wheeled out on a cart.
Bundy, who was representing himself, questioned Reynolds on the wording and legality of the Idaho codesthat banned him. Bundy’s line of questioning argued that the codes do not explicitly state the director’s power to ban Bundy.
Reynolds countered that “the essence of the statues is, ‘Yes, we have authority to control the spaces in the building, which would include the ability to trespass.’” Reynolds later added that if state law doesn’t specifically prohibit an individual from bringing dogs into the Capitol, that doesn’t mean dogs are allowed.
“So then what gives you the authority to exclude dogs?” Bundy asked.
“The fact that I have control over the space and over the security of the building,” Reynolds responded.
In the hour-long cross-examination, Welsh objected to Bundy’s questions several times over the way he worded questions and attempts to bring up prior cases. The jurors left the room when conversations included prior cases, arrests or convictions that involve Bundy due to a motion in limine, which means the juror must make a decision on the case without certain information.
Bundy seemed agitated about the order, as he wasn’t able to reference why he was initially banned from the Capitol.
“The jury is going to through this trial and not know why I was trespassed?” Bundy said.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.