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April 16, 2014

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Attorney may seek separate trial for defendant in Sovereign Citizens case

Not guilty pleas entered for co-defendants who allegedly conspired to abduct officer and try him for treason

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Leila Navidi

Sovereign citizen Devon Newman appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, August 23, 2013.

Sovereign Citizens in Court

Sovereign citizen David Brutsche appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, August 23, 2013. Launch slideshow »
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David Allen Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon. Police, who arrested the pair on Tuesday, Aug. 20, allege the two are members of the extremist Sovereign Citizens movement.

The courtroom drama surrounding the man and woman charged with conspiring to kidnap a random Metro officer continued today at their arraignment in Clark County District Court.

The spectacle has defendant Devon Campbell Newman’s attorney weighing whether to file a motion to try the cases separately.

At the arraignment, defendant David Allen Brutsche, 42, continued to object to the justice system as a whole, wouldn’t give a straight answer as to whether he wanted a speedy trial and didn’t enter his own plea.

Hearing master Melisa De La Garza entered in his not guilty plea for him and invoked his right to a speedy trial.

His co-defendant’s counsel is weighing whether the outbursts help or hurt Newman's case, which stems from a five-month Metro investigation into the anti-government http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/september-2011/sovereign-citizensSovereign Citizens Movement’s presence in Las Vegas.

Brutsche and Newman were arrested Aug. 20 in connection to a plot to abduct a Metro officer so they could try and execute the officer for treason in their own court of law, undercover Metro officer Scott Majewski testified at a preliminary hearing in September.

On one hand, Newman’s attorney, Carl Arnold, thinks keeping the pair together will show the jury that Newman, a 67-year-old grandmother and retired paralegal is radically different than convicted felon Brutsche, who objects to everything on grounds that it clashes with his Sovereign beliefs.

“The jury can see, ‘Well, obviously she doesn’t buy into this Sovereign thing because she wants to abide by the law,'” Arnold said.

That said, Arnold doesn’t know if they want to put up with all of the interruptions.

The case is set to go to trial Dec. 9, but Brutsche has entered a motion to reverse a lower court judge’s ruling that barred Brutsche from representing himself.

If Clark County District Court Judge Abbi Silver overturns the decision Thursday, it’s possible Brutsche could ask for a new preliminary hearing, according to William Waters, an attorney on the Public Defender’s Office’s appellate team.

Speediness is important to Newman, Arnold said.

She found out last week that she lost her apartment despite sending a rent check, Arnold said. The complex didn't like the legal trouble she was in, he said.

When Arnold told her it is possible she could lose all of her possessions, which are still in the apartment, she couldn’t stop crying, Arnold said.

“She’s totally devastated right now in regard to getting caught up in this,” Arnold said. “She didn’t know how to get out of it.”

She met Brutsche through a friend and started selling water on the Strip with him. Eventually, they became roommates, which made it hard for her to get out of the scheme, Arnold said, noting that Brutsche had threatened to kill Newman roughly a week before their arrest.

The defendants remain in Clark County Detention Center with Newman’s bail set at $200,000 and Brutsche’s bail at $600,000, according to court records.

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