Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 29, 2018

One Water Protector Found Not Guilty in First Felony Jury Trial for NoDAPL Cases

Photo (from left): Marcello Kills The Enemy, Lakota/Dine Water Protector and Defense Witness, Aaron Dorn and Burke Moore, Pro Hac Vice attorney.

Court Update: One Water Protector Found Not Guilty – First Felony Jury Trial for NoDAPL Cases

By Water Protector Legal Collective
Censored News

On Friday, June 29, Aaron Dorn was found not guilty of Reckless Endangerment (Felony C) and Preventing Arrest or Discharge of other Duties (Felony C) by a 12-person jury in Morton County before Judge David Nelson. Judge Nelson dismissed Dorn’s Physical Obstruction of a Government Function Charge with a Rule 29 Motion for a Judgement of Acquittal following the completion of the state’s presentation. Aaron’s trial lasted two and half days with the jury deliberation occurring for fewer than three hours before reaching a decision.
On November 24th, 2016, following an anti-colonial Thanksgiving Day demonstration in Mandan, ND, Dorn was brutally arrested by an unidentified law enforcement officer, who emerged from an unmarked vehicle. Dorn was hospitalized due to the injuries sustained by police during his arrest.
ND Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Arndt accused Dorn of driving recklessly towards him while in a caravan of Water Protectors. Law enforcement allowed him to remain for the entire demonstration before approaching and placing him under arrest as people were dispersing from the event.
Aaron was represented by WPLC Pro Hac Vice attorney Burke Moore. In addition to Dorn himself, the defense presented the testimony of one witness, Marcello Kills The Enemy from the Rosebud Sioux tribe who traveled to testify on Aaron’s behalf. Four officers testified for the state.
Asked for comment, Aaron and Burke said the following: “It’s a step in the right direction that two very privileged people can strike a blow like this, but it’s a small victory compared the struggle that lies ahead, particularly for those Water Protectors who are in federal custody. We declare our solidarity with Red Fawn, Little Feather and Dion Ortiz, and ask that everyone do all that they can to stand with them.”

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