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Judge dismisses state murder charge against Ruby Ridge figure

October 2, 1997

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho (AP) _ A judge dismissed a state murder charge Thursday against a man accused of killing a federal agent in the Ruby Ridge shootout, saying he can’t be tried again after being acquitted of murder in federal court in 1993.

Magistrate Quentin Harden ruled Thursday that the Idaho charges against Kevin Harris violate a state law barring prosecution of someone who faced the same charges in another ``state, territory or country.″

``To rule that the courts of the United States of America do not come under `another state, territory, or country’ would be an anomalous result _ giving more credence to the courts of another country than to the courts of our own nation,″ Harden wrote.

Prosecutor Denise Woodbury, who charged Harris and FBI marksmen Lon Horiuchi in state court in August, had argued that the state double jeopardy law was meant to cover prosecutions in foreign countries, not the United States.

She declined to comment on Harden’s ruling Thursday.

Harris, 29, of Republic, Wash., was accused in the shooting death of deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan and of shooting at another agent in the Aug. 21, 1992, shootout that sparked the 11-day siege at white separatist Randy Weaver’s cabin.

A friend of Weaver’s, Harris was staying at the cabin during the shootout and was wounded by an FBI sniper’s bullet.

Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Sam, was killed in the gunfight. His wife, Vicki Weaver, was later shot and killed during the siege by Horiuchi.

Woodbury charged Horiuchi with involuntary manslaughter. Harden’s ruling doesn’t affect the charge against Horiuchi, who has never been tried in any court. His lawyers have indicated they will try to move his case to a federal court.

Harris received the news that the murder charge against him had been dismissed at his job as a welder, said Diane Peters, his business partner at Eagle Industries.

``We were hoping what was fair and just would turn out,″ Peters said.

Harris did not immediately return a phone call.

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