Defence attorneys on Thursday opened their case within the trial of Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes and 4 others over their alleged roles within the assault on the U.S. Capitol, arguing the defendants had been in Washington to do safety work and didn’t plot to cease the switch of presidential energy.
Rhodes and co-defendants Thomas Caldwell, Kenneth Harrelson, Kelly Meggs and Jessica Watkins are charged with a number of felonies in reference to the Capitol assault, together with seditious conspiracy, which carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail.
The primary defence witness, Watkins’ fiancé Montana Siniff, testified that Watkins had had no intention to attempt to cease the election certification. Siniff was involved when he noticed that Watkins had entered the Capitol however mentioned she was a “law-abiding citizen.”
“I by no means doubted her intentions however I assumed it was a silly thought,” he mentioned.
Prosecutors, who rested their case on Thursday after greater than a month, have mentioned the defendants conspired to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to maintain Republican Donald Trump in energy.
Among the defendants had been among the many Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol constructing after the then-president falsely claimed the election had been stolen from him by means of widespread fraud.
Prosecutors offered proof together with textual content and audio communications among the many defendants within the run-up to Jan. 6, and referred to as witnesses together with FBI brokers and former members of the Oath Keepers.
Stanley Woodward, an legal professional for Meggs, mentioned in a gap assertion that he would current an alternate motive for Meggs’ actions.
Woodward, in addition to Harrelson’s lawyer Bradford Geyer in a separate assertion, described their shoppers as having lengthy been concerned in catastrophe reduction and safety and had been motivated to get entangled with the Oath Keepers on account of worries about riots and protests in america in 2020.
Woodward mentioned Meggs had supplied safety at occasions on earlier events, together with for Trump ally Roger Stone, on the request of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
The proof would present Meggs had performed safety work in Washington at a pro-Trump rally in November 2020 and was invited by Stone himself to Washington for safety work on Jan. 6, however didn’t plan to enter the Capitol or cease the election, Woodward mentioned.
Rhodes, a Yale-educated legal professional and former U.S. Military paratrooper, is anticipated to take the stand at some stage because the defence presents its case.