November 14, 1997 in Nation/World

Harris Spared New Trial Time Runs Out For Prosecutor To Appeal Ruby Ridge Ruling

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Kevin Harris appears permanently free from a murder charge stemming from his role in the deadly standoff at Ruby Ridge.

As of courthouse closing time Thursday, Boundary County Prosecutor Denise Woodbury hadn’t appealed a judge’s ruling that Harris could not be retried on state charges that he murdered a federal marshal.

Thursday was the deadline for Woodbury to appeal Magistrate Quentin Harden’s decision that trying Harris, who had been acquitted in federal court, would amount to double jeopardy.

Harris’ reaction was emotionless, a sharp contrast to the Aug. 21 day when he turned himself in to authorities in Republic, Wash., where he lives. About 150 supporters turned out to wish Harris well that day as he prepared to be taken to Boundary County to face state charges.

Harris was calm and smiling during much of that ordeal and even jubilant when released from jail a day later on $10,000 bond.

But Thursday, as the burden of another trial was lifted permanently, Harris had little to say: “I’m glad she didn’t appeal.”

Woodbury did not return several telephone calls from The Spokesman-Review.

Harris’ defense attorney, David Nevin of Boise, confirmed that Thursday was the deadline for Harris to escape an appeal by Woodbury.

Nevin said he is confident Harris would have won an appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. That would help Harris because there “couldn’t be anything anybody could possibly argue about whether Kevin Harris could be prosecuted,” Nevin said.

The process of appeals, however, would be grueling for Harris and his family, Nevin said.

Harris was living with white separatist Randy Weaver in 1993 when federal agents went to arrest Weaver for failing to appear in court on a weapons charge.

Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan was killed during the resulting standoff at Weaver’s rustic mountain cabin in Boundary County, as were Weaver’s wife, Vicki, and his son, Sam.

In 1993, a federal court jury acquitted Harris of killing Degan.

In August, Woodbury filed first-degree murder charges against Harris for Degan’s death. She also filed involuntary manslaughter charges against FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi for killing Vicki Weaver.

But in October, Harris’s attorneys asked a judge to throw out the case on the grounds that a 133-year-old Idaho law prohibited the trial. That law says the stated cannot prosecute anyone convicted or acquitted of a crime in another state, territory or country.

Harden reviewed the case for two days before dismissing the charge.

The Justice Department is seeking to have Horiuchi’s case moved to federal court. The 13-year FBI veteran contends he has the right to move the case to federal court because such transfers are allowed for a federal officer prosecuted for conduct performed while carrying out official duties.

On Wednesday, Stephen Yagman of Los Angeles was chosen as a special prosecutor to assist Woodbury in the case against Horiuchi. Yagman has frequently worked as an advocate for police brutality victims.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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