July 24, 1997 in Nation/World

Trial Notebook

By The Spokesman-Review

The bombing and robbery charges were serious, but the four-week trial did have its lighter moments:

Idaho lifestyles

When the government’s key informant, Idaho military surplus dealer Christopher Davidson Jr., testified that the three defendants lived an “upper-middle-class” lifestyle, defense attorneys pounced.

Attorney Frank Conklin grilled Davidson, trying to show that defendant Verne Jay Merrell was nearly destitute.

“Would it surprise you to learn Mr. Merrell didn’t have any running water?” Conklin asked.

“No sir,” Davidson replied. “I lived in Idaho 10 years.”

He was under oath

Randy Weaver’s future son-in-law, a one-time skinhead named David Cooper, testified that he met Merrell at the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff.

Then going by the nickname “Spider,” Cooper said the hundreds of onlookers at the 11-day siege were belligerent, but never violent.

“Was anyone armed up there?” asked defense attorney Frank Conklin.

“Ah, yes, sir,” the ex-Marine replied. “The ATF.”

It’s the principal of the thing

Charles Barbee may not like banks, but they must like him.

Barbee, along with his co-defendants, testified that he considered usury - the charging of interest - a crime under God’s law.

But unlike his colleagues, Barbee actually used credit cards.

His current outstanding card balance: about $30,000.

Perhaps an afterword is in order

Merrell testified he was a primary author of “The Citizens Rule Book,” a breast pocket-sized pamphlet that contains instructions on how to hang a jury.

, DataTimes

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