LANL protester found guilty

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By Carol A. Clark

A six-person jury found Marcus Patrick Blaise Page guilty of criminal trespassing on DOE land in front of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The unanimous verdict came in Page’s re-trial Tuesday after an Aug. 18 jury failed to reach consensus in the case.

Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados explained that criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor. She sentenced Page to the maximum 364 days in jail, suspending 362 of those days and granting him credit for two days spent in jail April 14-16 following his arrest.

Casados also sentenced Page to perform 30 days of community service, 180 days of unsupervised probation and required him to pay $67 in court costs.

During his trial, Page called a number of witnesses to the stand who spoke out against LANL and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

“This is a burning passion with me,” said Bud Ryan, coordinator of Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace group. “God said thou shalt not kill – nuclear weapons kill. I’ve been to Hiroshima three times and Nagasaki twice and those were cap pistols compared to the weapons we have today.”

Los Alamos Police Sgt. Jason Herrera and Ofc. Paige Early laid out the case for the state.

“You are sitting here today to determine whether or not the state can prove the defendant guilty of trespassing and nothing else,” Early told jurors during her closing arguments. “This is not the time or place to hear or speak of the motives of LANL or our right to speak for or against it. This is simply about the charge of trespassing.”

Page was part of a group of six Trinity Nuclear Abolitionists from Albuquerque praying and protesting in front of LANL April 14 against tax money being used for building nuclear weapons.

While four members ended their vigil and returned to Albuquerque, Page, 42, and Mike Butler, 22, stayed on intending to pray and protest though out the night.

The men were approached early in the evening by LANL security and Los Alamos Fire Department personnel in an area between Fire Station One and the Los Alamos Research Park across the street from the laboratory on West Jemez Road.

LANL security official Jack Killeen, Fire Department Battalion Chief Juan Pacheco and others attempted to convince the men that their permit to protest ran out at 6:30 p.m. and they needed to vacate the area.

Witnesses testified that Page and Butler were offered rides to other locations still in view of the laboratory to continue their vigil. They also were told they would be picked up in the morning but the men refused to leave, according to court documents.

Page and Butler were ultimately arrested. Butler made a plea bargain in September.

The jury Tuesday deliberated for less than two hours before rendering its verdict regarding Page just prior to 5 p.m.

“Officer Early prepared an excellent case,” Herrera said. “The witnesses provided clear and concise testimony, the jurors agreed with the prosecution and reached a guilty verdict.”

While the jury was deliberating behind closed doors, LAPD Chief Wayne Torpy took a moment to discuss the trial.

“Regardless of the verdict, the issue of whether people can publicly protest is not in question,” Torpy said. “The question is whether someone can enter and stay on a piece of property owned by another person or entity without permission and that’s what this jury will decide. My officers and this department do not question freedom of speech or rights to protest but we do worry about protecting people’s property.”

Torpy praised Early and Herrera for their efforts in preparing and presenting their case.

Casados commended the jury for their service. “You are what makes our judicial system work,” she said.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.