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Published November 06, 2013, 10:08 AM

ND farmer on trial in 2011 standoff case

The attorney for a northeast North Dakota farmer on trial for terrorizing law officers during a summer-long standoff two years ago says officers bungled the case.

By: Forum News Service ,

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The attorney for a northeast North Dakota farmer on trial for terrorizing law officers during a summer-long standoff two years ago says officers bungled the case.

Rodney Brossart, a rural Lakota farmer in his late 50s, is accused of stealing cattle and threatening deputies who tried to arrest him in 2011. Authorities allege that Brossart family members refused to allow deputies on their farmstead and didn’t show up for court hearings.

Brossart is on trial in Grand Forks this week, with prosecutor Cameron Sillers trying to prove that he refused to cooperate with officers investigating a neighbor’s missing cattle and also threatened deputies.

“This escalated from a simple, ‘Can I look at the cattle’ to a brawl,” Sillers said in his opening statement to jurors.

Defense attorney Bruce Quick maintains the cattle wandered onto Brossart’s property on their own, and that deputies didn’t provide the paperwork to justify an arrest and didn’t give Brossart a chance to comply. He also says state law allows residents to detain lost cattle as a safety measure, because the animals might get run over or hurt people.

“This is not a crime, this is a civil matter,” he said.

Brossart could face more than 10 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors earlier dropped charges against Brossart’s wife and daughter. His three sons remain charged with terrorizing. Their trials haven’t been scheduled.

The case drew widespread attention because police used a military-style unmanned drone to conduct surveillance on the Brossart farm. Defense attorneys earlier questioned whether that was proper but Judge Joel Medd ruled the matter was irrelevant to the case.

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