Trial underway for FBI agent in Finicum case

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The FBI agent accused of lying about firing two shots at Robert “Lavoy” Finicum during the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge was in court Tuesday for the second day of a evidentiary hearing.

Investigators said FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita failed to disclose that he fired errant shots at Finicum

Authorities moved in on Ammon Bundy and other leaders as they were driving in two vehicles from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.

Astarita pleaded not guilty to five charges including two counts of obstruction of justice and three counts of making a false statement. 

Tuesday morning’s testimony came from two forensics experts who worked to determine where the gunshots came from. Prosecutors said Astarita is the only person who could have fired those two specific shots at Lavoy Finicum. While neither shot hit Finicum, Astarita is accused of lying to investigators five different times about firing his weapon.

The testimony went over the methods by an Oregon State Police forensic analyst to deduce the angles the bullets were fired from based off of their entry points into the roof and hood of Finicum’s truck.

One of Astarita’s defense attorneys questioned that analyst on her use of different techniques in determining the bullet path as well as her margin for error of plus or minus five degrees.

Michael Haag — a forensic science consultant — was also called to the stand Tuesday. 

He was hired by the government to further examine those entry points and testified that his margin for error was the same as the work of the OSP analyst — despite the use of different methods.

Haag’s testimony was the final portion of evidentiary hearings.

The oral arguments were scheduled to start sometime Tuesday and continue through the next few days.

The family of the Malheur militia spokesman sued the federal government for $5 million for his death on January 26, 2016

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