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Helpers or law breakers? Oregon standoff trial begins

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The leaders of an armed standoff at a rural wildlife refuge say they came to Oregon’s high desert country to help locals deal with an overreaching federal government that has abused people’s land rights for decades.

Occupier Ryan Bundy said as a federal trial began Tuesday that the protesters came to enforce the law, and that he wasn’t anti-government. But in opening statements prosecutors said Bundy and the other protesters broke the law when they threatened and intimidated federal employees during the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year.

The seven on trial are charged with conspiring to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs through intimidation or threats.

The trial in Portland, Oregon, is expected to last until November.


Ex-police sergeant accused in wife’s death heads to trial

(Information from: KPTV-TV,

GLADSTONE, Ore. (AP) — The trial for a former Gladstone police sergeant charged in his wife’s shooting death is set to get underway.

KPTV-TV reports that Lynn Benton’s trial will begin Wednesday after it was pushed back a day. Benton is charged with aggravated murder in connection with the death of Debbie Higbee-Benton, who was found dead in her beauty salon in May 2011.

The former sergeant is accused of conspiring with his friend Susan Campbell and her son to kill his wife.

Campbell pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Higbee-Benton in 2012 as part of a plea deal, but a judge vacated the agreement last week.

Campbell could now face charges of murder.



Dallas teacher being investigated on sex abuse charges

(Information from: Statesman Journal,

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A high school teacher in northwestern Oregon has been arrested on sexual abuse charges after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student.

The Statesman Journal reports that the 36-year-old man was arrested Monday after the Dallas School District reported to police that he had been involved with the female student. He’s being held on $30,000 bail.

Superintendent Michelle Johnstone says the suspect had been employed with the district for two years and has been placed on administrative leave.

The district issued an email to parents Tuesday informing them of the teacher’s arrest.

Police say the teacher is only believed to have one victim and an investigation remains ongoing.



Kayaker clinging to pilings rescued near Warrenton

WARRENTON, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a man was rescued after his kayak capsized near Warrenton.

Coast Guard officials said in a news release a call came in Tuesday afternoon from a man saying his elderly brother was on a kayak that had overturned and that he was unable to get to shore.

A boat crew found the man, who was wearing a life jacket and clinging to nearby pilings south of Hammond Marina.

The crew pulled the man aboard and transported him to waiting emergency personnel. Officials say he denied medical assistance.


Man charged with murder, abuse of corpse in woman’s death

(Information from: The Register-Guard,

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A 36-year-old St. Helens man has been charged with murder and abusing the corpse of a woman he was dating who was reported missing last month.

The Register-Guard reports Jeremy Milutin was charged Tuesday in the death of 35-year-old Cheryl Hart of St. Helens. He appeared in court but did not enter any pleas.

Hart’s body was found by a search party over the weekend in a remote and wooded area, east of Chiloquin in Klamath County, about 150 miles from where she was last seen.

Milutin was named as a person of interest in the case last month and was already in custody for auto theft.

A Lane County Circuit Court charging document states that Milutin “did unlawfully and intentionally cause the death of Cheryl Elizabeth Hart,” on or about Aug. 5.



The Latest: Ryan Bundy says occupiers came to help

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — One of the most high-profile members of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon this year says he came to help a local ranching family, not to break the law.

Ryan Bundy, the brother of group leader Ammon Bundy, is acting as his own attorney. He told the court in opening statements Tuesday that he and others went to Burns, Oregon, to protest against the imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires.

Ryan Bundy and other defendants face a charge of conspiring to impede U.S. government workers by taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group’s members have said they were protesting federal land use policy and wanted locals to control the area.

Ryan Bundy said he is “in favor of government as long as it’s done correctly.”



Police: Death of black teenager run down sparked by race

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man and his girlfriend accused of intentionally running down a black teen after an altercation face new charges for targeting the victim because of his race.

Court documents show Russell Courtier pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of first- and second-degree intimidation in the death of Larnell Malik Bruce.

Colleen Hunt pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree intimidation.

They had both already pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder last month.

Police say the 19-year-old Bruce and Courtier got into an altercation outside a Gresham, Oregon, 7-Eleven on Aug. 10, and Bruce was armed with a machete.

According to authorities, Courtier then ran down Bruce with his 1991 Jeep Wrangler and targeted him because of his race.

Attorneys for Courtier and Hunt didn’t immediately return calls.


Feds: Plan addresses impact of ocean noise on marine mammals

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government says a new strategy to address the issue of noise in the ocean will better protect the safety of marine mammals.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap on Tuesday. The agency says the roadmap will guide it in managing ocean noise and its effects on ocean life through the next 10 years.

The roadmap lays out roles for federal government agencies, researchers, industries and environmental advocates to play in managing noise in the ocean. NOAA crafted the plan using more than 85,000 public comment responses.

Sound plays a key role in the survival of marine animals and can be caused either by human actions or the ocean’s natural ecosystem. Whales and dolphins, for example, use sound to navigate and find food.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.