Activists plead not guilty to trespassing charges at Y-12

Activists plead not guilty to trespassing charges at Y-12

Posted:
Michael Walli (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office) Michael Walli (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office)
Megan Rice (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office) Megan Rice (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office)
Gregory Boertje-Obed (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office) Gregory Boertje-Obed (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office)

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A trio of protestors, including an 82-year-old nun, were back in federal court Thursday for an initial arraignment hearing following an incident at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

A trial date is set for October 9 before Federal Magistrate Judge G. Clifford Shirley.

Michael Walli, 63, Sister Megan Rice, 92, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 57, face federal trespassing charges after an unprecedented security breech at Y-12. The incident led to the stoppage of all nuclear activity there.  

The three defendants pleaded not guilty on Thursday to their charges, which are misdemeanors. 

The pleas come after the government submitted a revised complaint which eliminates the requirement for a preliminary hearing.  

The activists told the judge they don't want to continue being detained. The three are being held in the Blount County Jail.    

The activists waived the right to a detention hearing during their arraignment on Monday.  

"It seemed like they were back peddling in making that decision and they haven't thought through terms of what was going to happen for the procedure in this court situation," said Marry Dennis-Lynch, a supporter of the activists.                 

Federal prosecutors maintained the activists are a threat to the community and considered a flight risk.  

Due to the alleged crimes and previous charges, the assistant U.S. attorney told Judge Shirley the activists should remain detained.  

However, Judge Shirley indicated the arguments for detaining the three might not be sufficient for misdemeanor charges.  

Judge Shirley called for a hearing at 2:00 p.m. Friday to give prosecutors a chance to provide information showing enough evidence to keep the activists detained.

If the government can meet that requirement, a detention hearing is expected on Friday.

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