Convicted Y-12 protestors denied bond, for now

4:41 PM, May 9, 2013   |    comments
  • Sister Megan Rice
  • Michael Walli
  • Greg Boertje-Obed
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The three Y-12 protestors who were convicted Wednesday of sabotage and vandalism will remain in custody until at least next week.

The group entered the courtroom Thursday morning with tan jumpsuit replacing their slogan-bearing tee shirts and shackled from ankle to waist.

They smiled and nodded to supporters in the gallery, who greeted them by singing hymns.

One song had been specifically requested by Sister Megan Rice has an homage to another nun who died while in jail for a similar act of protest.

At the bond hearing for Michael Walli, 64, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun, the judge announced he would not rule on the matter until he had more time to research whether or not they committed a crime of violence.

Last July, the three cut through security fences at Y-12, making it all the way to a critical building, where they splashed blood, banged on the walls with hammers, and left messages.

After they were found guilty of sabotage, the more serious charge, Wednesday, prosecutors argued they should not have bail because that was a crime of violence.

The government sought to convince the judge Thursday that cutting through the fence of Y-12 and entering the "lethal zone" was an inherently violent act.

The prosecutor also expressed concerns if the group was released, they might try a similar act of protest again. The two men have previous felony convictions for similar acts.

But the defense argued that while the three are people of conviction, they are also people of integrity and will not violate conditions set by the court if released.

They also contend that the purpose of their client's act was to prevent future acts of violence- the use of nuclear bombs- not to conduct violence themselves. No one was injured during the incident.

If the judge determines they did commit a crime of violence he says according to the law, his hands would be tied and the defendants would not be eligible for bond.

He expressed frustration that the law does not allow him to distinguish a peace protestor from a terrorist during the sentencing phase, if they are convicted of a crime of violence.

If he determines they did not commit a crime of violence, then they would be eligible for bond until sentencing, which should happen in September.  The protestors face a maximum of up to 30 years in prison.

The federal marshals responsible for the prisoners would not allow them to say goodbye to family and friends at the courthouse Thursday.

But Boertje-Obed's wife, Michele, says they've known the risks all along.

"I'm very proud of my husband and I also know that this place will never be the same," said Boertje-Obed.

The defense has also filed a Rule 29 motion, asking for an acquittal based on the fact that prosecution did not meet the burden of proof to prove that the protestors interfered with national security. It could be several months before the judge would rule on that motion.

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