White separatist Randy Weaver and co-defendant Kevin Harris were acquitted Thursday in the slaying of a federal marshal during a shootout last summer at Weaver's northern Idaho cabin. Weaver was convicted on two minor counts.
The jury of eight women and four men acquitted Harris on four other counts and convicted Weaver only of failure to appear for a February 1991 trial on a firearms charge unrelated to the shootout and on a charge of committing an offense while on release from a federal magistrate pending that 1991 trial.Weaver faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines on those two charges.
The verdict came on the 20th day of jury deliberations, an Idaho record. The jury spent about 170 hours behind the closed doors of the jury room in downtown Boise's federal building.
The government's entire case focused on the death of Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan during the Aug. 21 shootout, and the jury acquitted both Weaver and Harris on all possible charges related to Degan's death.
It was the fourth time in the past year that the U.S. attorney in Idaho has failed to win a high-profile case. The government failed to convict a north-central Idaho county sheriff in May 1992 on drug charges even though he was caught in a drug sting. The jury hung in the first trial of a Panhandle sheriff accused of protecting illegal gambling in his county and the sheriff was acquitted on his second trial.