Y-12 protesters’ trial rescheduled to May

The federal trial against the three protesters accused of sneaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July and vandalizing a uranium storage building has been reset to May 7.

It had most recently been set for Feb. 26, 2013. But the U.S. Attorneys’ Office said last week that the date would likely change after a federal grand jury in Knoxville returned new three-count indictments against the three defendants—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael R. Walli.

The new indictments, which supersede earlier three-count indictments from August, added a more serious charge of injuring national defense premises. That charge carries a longer prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli have apparently not been arraigned on the new three-count indictments, according to U.S. District Court records posted online today. Attorneys for the anti-nuclear weapons activists said they will be filing waivers of appearance for the new arraignments. During an arraignment, the defendants are read the charges against them and advised of their rights, and they plead guilty or not guilty.

The new indictments dropped an earlier trespassing charge but kept two other charges: property destruction and property depredation. The three protesters, who oppose Y-12’s nuclear weapons work, each now face potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

The protesters’ trial was reset during a teleconference this morning. Other deadlines have been changed as well, including the motion cut-off, now extended to Jan. 18. A motion hearing and pretrial conference is scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7.

An April 7 plea cut-off date has also been set.

The trial is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on May 7.

Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli are accused of sneaking into Y-12 before dawn on Saturday, July 28, cutting through fences, and splashing human blood and spray-painting slogans on the $549 million Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.

A complete selection of Oak Ridge Today stories on the Y-12 protesters, who called themselves Transform Now Plowshares, is available in our special section: Y-12 Security Breach.




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  • Sam Hopwood

    Do everyone a big favor and turn ‘em loose. They pointed out the laughable security at the nations bomb grade weapons vault and probably saved us all from an unspeakable calamity, but they embarrassed
    a lot of “powerful” people and that is an unforgivable sin.

  • Irene Cunningham

    Sam’s comment about dropping the charges seems about spot on, that they embarrassed a lot of powerful people whose chief concern is clearly NOT about security, or the three of them would not have gotten in and the prosecution would be trying to find out how they actually did get in, rather than prove their ill conceived theories about how they did get in. But Sam’s comment did not explain the full story: that the security team was following the recommendations of the NNSA per security. Maybe a little shuffling of the deck chairs at NNSA, maybe a little time on the hot seat in Congress but no real change at NNSA. This in spite of the massive management inadequacies and oversight as demonstrated by the breach and as demonstrated by the incredible cost overruns at Oak Ridge and elsewhere.

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