LAS VEGAS — A federal judge has agreed to postpone the trial of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy and others in a 2014 armed standoff because of the Las Vegas mass shooting.
Defense attorneys argued that the attack would cast a shadow over the trial, which was set to start Tuesday in Las Vegas. On Friday, the judge rescheduled it for Oct. 30.
Bundy, two sons and others are accused of conspiring to enlist a self-styled militia to prevent U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents and civilian employees from removing Bundy’s cattle from federal land in Nevada.
Defendant Ryan Payne on Monday asked that trial be postponed for up to three months.
Payne’s lawyers said in a Thursday filing that the Oct. 1 killings shocked and traumatized Las Vegas residents.
“There is no potential juror in this community who will be able to set aside the images of Oct. 1 when asked to consider the evidence in this case,” Payne’s lawyers wrote. “Guns are central to this case. The government will repeatedly show the jury pictures of guns, present testimony about guns and present statement’s from the defendants discussing guns.”
Other defendants initially objected to a delay, but they changed their position as the week wore on.
Also Friday, defendant Pete Santilli of Cincinnati pleaded guilty to conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the 52-year-old Santilli faces up to six years in prison when sentenced Jan. 11.
Santilli acknowledged using his vehicle to block a BLM convoy, allowing others to surround the convoy and threaten people in the convoy “by force, violence and fear, inducing the officers to leave the place where their duties were required to be performed,” the office said in a statement.
Santilli’s attorney had argued that he was a journalist, and that his calls in internet postings for supporters to rally to the Bundy ranch to lawfully carry guns and protest the BLM plan to impound Cliven Bundy’s cattle were constitutionally protected free speech.