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News :: Environment
Earth First! Activists Found Guilty on All Counts in Mountain Lion Trial
19 Dec 2005
Tuesday afternoon the jury found Earth First! activists Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier guilty of all 3 charges in the Sabino Canyon mountain lion trial. The prosecution immediately made a motion to take Coronado into custody, claiming he was a flight risk. Judge David C. Bury sustained the objection of Coronado's attorney that he had not violated his pre-trial release agreement in the year and a half since his arrest. Coronado and Crozier will face sentencing on March 9, 2006.
Coronado was arrested March 24, 2004 along with Esquire writer John H. Richardson in Sabino Canyon during an Arizona Game and Fish operation to remove mountain lions from the recreation area. Crozier was arrested by FBI agents 9 months later allegedly for also being in the canyon. Crozier and Coronado were each charged with one count of felony conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, one count of misdemeanor inteference with or injury of a federal officer, and one count of misdemeanor depredation of federal property. Richardson, who was working on a story about Coronado, is being tried separately on just the misdemeanor interference charge.

During the week-long trial, the prosecution called 15 witnesses, including a wildlife biologist, a school cafeteria cashier, 3 FBI agents, a helicopter pilot, the government hunter, and several officers of the Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish. Defense attorney Antonio Felix argued that much of the prosecution's case relied on emotional appeals to the jury about the danger of mountain lions. "Prosecution led a campaign to get the jury to say 'Arizona Game and Fish did a good job'," he said in his closing arguments.

Another key to the government's case was John Richardson's audio notes, which Assistant U.S. District Attorney Wallce Kleindienst called a "smoking gun." The hour long excerpt of the reporter's recordings was introduced as evidence after heated debate about its admissibility. The judge agreed with Kleindienst's contention that the tape should be considered "the utterances of a co-conspirator," and that using the media to sway public opinion was part of Earth First!'s criminal strategy.

Coronado and Crozier could face 6 years in prison for the felony conviction. Assistant prosecution attorney Bev Anderson said after the trial "I know he wasn't tried here for being a violent anarchist. This trial wasn't about Rod Coronado being a terrorist, but he is one." An Earth First! spokesperson stated "while we may be reassessing our specific strategy in light of this conviction, our commitment to defending Arizona's wildlife with effective direct action will not change."

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19 Dec 2005
It's about time that these criminals are put behind bars. I say that we should exile them to Bolivia. There is plenty of coke down there for them.