Advertise:   712.224.5420

Men defend removal of tribal petroglyphs in Nev.

Two men who have been indicted for stealing petroglyphs from federal land in Nevada claim they were only trying to help.

Lawyers for John Ligon, 40, and Carroll Mizell, 43, say they were protecting the artifacts, which date back 800 years, from development. They also claim they didn't know it was illegal to remove the items.

John Pickett, a seasonal federal employee, disputes the men's claim. He says he took one of them to the site and told him of the petroglyphs' significance. Pickett also said he informed the man of the laws regarding protection of historic artifacts.

The U.S. Forest Service, Washoe Tribe and Reno Sparks Indian Colony offered a $4,000 reward for the return of the petroglyphs, which were cut out of the rock at the base of a mountain. A secret witness tip led federal investigators to Ligon and Mizell.

It is rare for prosecutors to obtain a conviction for artifact theft. They have to prove that a person knowingly took artifacts of a certain age.

Get the Story:
Accusations fly in petroglyph caper in Nevada (AP 1/30)

Related Stories:
Two men indicted for stealing ancient petroglyphs (10/09)
Secret witness tip leads to return of petroglyphs (09/17)