Long road ahead for ‘Walmart Manifesto’ case as complicated test size (2022)

The “Walmart Manifesto” arson trial won’t begin until at least November, and court proceedings have raised the possibility that it will become more complicated with the indictment of additional alleged participants.

In another recent development, two out of five defendants have been approved for pre-trial release.

As it is, the case is included Five people were arrested on 24 February In South Baldwin County: Jeffrey Sykes, 40; Sean Bottorff, 37; Michael Bottorff, 21; Quinton Olson, 21; and Alexander Olsson, 23. All five have been charged with conspiracy to maliciously destroy by fire. Sykes and Alexander Olsen also face charges of malicious destruction by fire. Everyone is pleading not guilty.

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There were arson attacks at stores in Mobile, Gulfport and Biloxi last spring and summer; Criminals entered shops and used items such as lighter fluid to set the goods on fire. The criminals also circulated a document to news outlets titled “Declaration of War and Demands for the People.” Prosecutors have dubbed it the “Walmart Manifesto” and said it threatened more attacks if Walmart did not change certain business practices. Prosecutors say they have found evidence that Wells Fargo and Amazon may also be under consideration as targets,

In a status hearing on Friday, District Judge Terry F. Moore, Magistrate Judge Sonja F. Working with Bivins, developed a preliminary program for future course of action. Assistant US Attorneys Christopher Bodner and Kasie Hesterhagen have said the evidence is complex and they expect the trial to take two weeks. Meanwhile, the defendants are represented by five court-appointed lawyers, one of whom has at least one ongoing murder trial on his calendar.

The result was that Maurer began the trial with a jury selection on 28 November. However, two issues were raised which had the potential to disrupt the timetable. The attorney representing Alexander Olsen, Arthur J. Madden III said the conspiracy charges included fires in Alabama and Mississippi and that the two arson counts were related to fires in Alabama.

Madden said that raises the possibility that additional charges could be imposed by prosecutors in the Southern District of Mississippi. If so, he said, he hopes prosecutors can collaborate to “get it into one package” rather than parallel prosecution in two districts. Hesterhagen said that since Mississippi had not issued an indictment, it was difficult to predict.

Another issue raised by Lawanda Jean O’Bannon, the attorney representing Sean Bottorff, is the possibility that additional people may be charged in the Southern District of Alabama.

One strangeness of the case so far is that the indictment of the five men mentions that women were involved in some of the attacks, but does not name or allege any female conspirators. Hesterhagen said prosecutors think they know the identities of one or more of the female participants. “At this point I can’t tell you what the grand jury will or won’t do,” she said.

Hesterhagen said he would not be surprised if the indictment is dropped as a result of a grand jury action. She said she didn’t necessarily think that would change the testing schedule set by Maurer.

Maurer, for his part, refers to an episode of “I Love Lucy” in which Lucy and Ethel go to work at a candy factory and struggle to make ends meet. a quick conveyor belt on a production line. Regarding the scheduling challenge, he said, “Being a judge keeps running the candy line.”

At the time of Friday afternoon’s hearing, the question of pre-trial release had not been fully resolved. Since then, Biven’s orders have specified that Sean Bottorff and Alexander Olsen remain in custody for trial, while Michael Bottorff and Quinton Olsen are eligible for release.

Sikes pleaded guilty to wire fraud in Nebraska and then skipped a 2018 sentencing hearing. As a federal fugitive who was living under a pseudonym, there was no question of a pre-trial release. Maurer expressed a strong preference that the Alabama trial should be carried to its conclusion before officials in Nebraska can proceed with the unfinished business.

At Ash Wednesday’s custodial hearing, prosecutors argued that the other four should be held pending trial, given the nature of the crime and other factors.

“The arson is no joke,” Hesterhagen said, emphasizing that customers and employees were in the stores at the time of the fire, although no one was injured. “These are violent crimes that could have had immeasurable effects.”

Responding to prosecutors’ questions, an FBI agent testified that the Tillman’s Corner Walmart fire caused $11 million in damage and agreed that the store was “essentially declared a total loss.” (Media reports indicate it was reopened about two weeks after the fire.)

Lawyers for the four argued that prosecutors had not shown that any of their customers were inside any of the four Walmarts at the time of the fire and could not conclusively show that any were in the vicinity. (Prosecutors cited various cell phone data as well as surveillance video that allegedly showed a blue Toyota Sienna minivan registered at Michael Bottorf was at four stores.)

On Friday, the families of the four people were in the court. He told Bivens that he was willing to provide housing for the four pending litigation and would see that they comply with any conditions placed on him. Relatives had traveled from Washington state and Nebraska.

The Bivins delivered a split decision, deciding that Alexander Olson and Sean Bottorff should remain in custody, while Quinton Olson and Michael Bottorff could be released from relatives’ custody.

Bivins said an FBI agent testified that video evidence showed Alexander Olson and Sykes started a fire, and that Olson was in another store when an unidentified woman opened fire. Olson also reportedly purchased the cell phone that was used to create a Gmail account for The Veterans Order and distribute the manifesto.

“The evidence before the court strongly suggests that Olson’s role in this alleged conspiracy is not minor, that he is a danger to the community and a flight risk, and that there is no circumstance that would justify the safety of the community and Olson.” Will definitely assure you to appear in court,” Biven wrote.

The others were not charged with starting any fires, but Bivins still found that prosecutors “presented clear and convincing evidence” that Sean Bottorff posed a danger to the community and a flight risk. Like Sykes, he was living in Alabama under a fictitious name.

Bivins found that Quinton Olson, who is Alexander Olson’s brother, was a 21-year-old gainfully employed man with no criminal record, who was not linked to any of the fires by video or cell phone evidence. He was to be released into the custody of his mother, who lives in Spokane, Wash.

The Bivins likewise found that Shawn Bottorff’s stepson Michael Bottorff, 21, with no prior convictions, had been employed. Even though a minivan registered for him was at the scene in all of the Walmart attacks, no cell phone evidence suggested that Michael Bottorff was himself.

However, Bivins was not satisfied that Bottorf’s step-grandmother, who appeared at the custody hearing, was a suitable mentor, as he had not seen her since graduating high school and went about her life since. Didn’t know much. He was eligible for release, Bivins ruled, but that could only happen if a suitable third-party patron could be identified.

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