While the Idaho House was in session Tuesday, a lawmaker introduced, and several others applauded, a Hailey man who recently pleaded guilty to obstruction of a court order stemming from his actions during the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nev.
Many lawmakers on the floor that day had earlier been part of a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that raised concerns about the man’s prosecution.
“I’d like to introduce Mr. Eric Parker,” said Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley.
A number of House members then began applauding, until House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, gavelled them down and asked the chamber to maintain order.
The House floor introduction came at a time when representatives generally introduce visiting constituents, family members, groups of students or dignitaries. They are generally greeted with a polite wave from the entire body, rather than applause.
Parker entered a plea agreement with federal prosecutors admitting he had obstructed a court order, a crime with a far lighter sentence than the others he had been charged with.
One photo from the 2014 standoff shows Parker lying in the prone position on a bridge above the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp, leveling a semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity “banana” magazine between two Jersey barriers. It became an iconic symbol of the armedstandoff with federal agents at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.
Parker was tried twice on several federal charges along with other defendants.
In the first verdict, the jury found some other defendants guilty on some counts, found Parker and others not guilty of two counts of conspiracy, and deadlocked on several counts against Parker and others.
Arizona militia member Gregory Burleson was sentenced to 68 years in prison, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
After a second trial, Parker was found not guilty of several other counts along with other defendants. But the jury was hung on whether Parker had assaulted or aided in assault on a federal officer, used a firearm in the commission of a violent crime and threatened a federal officer. Several other defendants in the case were found not guilty of those charges.
With Parker facing a third federal trial, Moon authored a formal letter to Sessions in August, calling for the prosecution to be dropped. Over time, the letter was joined by more than 50 other Idaho lawmakers, all Republicans and including some members of House leadership. The letter argued that a third trial would represent “disrespect for the rule of law and the jury system.”
Parker later accepted the plea deal. His attorney told the Statesman that Parker appreciated the letter, and one from U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, but that the documents likely didn’t affect the case.
In Parker’s plea agreement, he admitted that he heard directions from federal officers telling protesters to disperse but ignored them, remaining armed on the bridge above the officers. He admitted that he made a “show of force” and deliberately impeded federal officers enforcing a legal court order.
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.
Statesman staff contributed.