Attorneys for the three protesters on trial this week for vandalizing a uranium storage building at a nuclear weapons plant said the government doesn’t have enough evidence to convict the defendants on a national defense charge, the most serious of the two remaining charges.
The national defense charge alleges Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli willfully injured national defense premises when they cut through three fences in a high-security Protected Area at Y-12 on July 28 and spray-painted biblical passages and poured blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Attorney William P. Quigley of New Orleans, a volunteer lawyer representing Walli, said the government hasn’t proven a link between the disruption caused by the defendants and an intent to injure the national defense.
In fact, the evidence in the case shows the opposite, Quigley argued after the jury had been dismissed on the first day of a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
“Security at Y-12 is better today than it was when they showed up,” Quigley said.
But arguing against a motion to acquit the trio on the national defense charge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Theodore said a jury could infer practical intent.
U.S. District Court Judge Amul Thapar said he could issue a ruling on the motion on Wednesday.
More information will be added later.