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Jury mulls case of FBI agent accused of lying about shots

PORTLAND, Ore. – A jury in deliberation or an FBI agent lied about the firing of shots on a militia leader who have participated in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The prosecutors and the defense lawyers for W. Joseph Astarita made closing arguments and a jury of three women and nine men began deliberating Thursday afternoon, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported .

Astarita is charged with making false statements and obstruction of justice after telling investigators he did not fire two shots that missed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a key figure in the group that seized the refuge in 2016, while protesting against the imprisonment of two farmers.

Astarita pleaded not guilty and refused the firing of the shots.

Assistant district Attorney Paul Maloney argued Thursday that Astarita was a rookie on the elite Hostage Rescue Team who panicked and shot as Finicum came close to running over his team-mate at a road block police. Astarita, then lied to hide the fact that he did not hit his mark on Jan. 26, led by his ego and bravado as a “super-agent,” Maloney said.

The alleged shots came as authorities were trying to arrest Finicum. A shot hit the roof of the truck and the other went astray, if Finicum got out of his truck, with his hands in the air, researchers said.

Oregon State Police fatally shot Finicum seconds later.

Attorney David Angeli countered that the government has no testimony over 11 days of Astarita the trial, who saw or heard Astarita fire shots the day that the police and FBI agents arrested leaders of the acquisition of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

Prosecutors gave no forensic evidence that proved Astarita discharged his Colt AR-15, said Angeli.

Astarita had no motive to lie because he had heard that the Deschutes County district attorney had found all the shots fired during the arrest to be justified, said Angeli.

Defense lawyers also said an unidentified state police SWAT officer could have taken the photos.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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