The trial of a far-right leader and four associates accused of attacks on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 was delayed on Monday after the leader of the Keepers of Words swear to test positive for coronavirus.
Jurors are expected to begin hearing testimony in the fourth week in a case against Stewart Rhodes and four others accused of conspiring to block the transfer of power from Republican Donald Trump to Democrats. owner Joe Biden.
The judge told the attorneys and the jury to return Tuesday morning but it was unclear when and how they might resume the case.
An attorney for Rhodes, Ed Tarpley, said he was told by prison officials that his client was being “in complete isolation” at the prison and wasn’t even available to make a phone call. Rhodes will appear in court next week at the earliest if he tests negative on Sunday, but could also waive his appearance in court to allow the testimony of some witnesses to be heard. continue.
Prosecutors are expected to settle their case later this week, and then Rhodes’ attorneys will begin defending them. Rhodes’ attorneys said their client would testify that all of his actions were in anticipation of the orders he expected from Trump – orders that never came.
The defendants are the first of hundreds charged in the Capitol attack to face trial on charges of malicious conspiracy, a rare Civil War-era charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. prison.
Prosecutors said Rhodes and his extremist group planned an “armed uprising” to keep Trump in power. Authorities say they have “rapid response force” teams stationed at a hotel in Virginia to quickly bring weapons into the city if needed, and that the team is ready to prevent Biden from becoming president by any means possible. necessary way.
Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of cherry picking messages and said they came to provide security for political figures like Roger Stone, not to carry out the attack. Capitol Palace.
Testimony began on October 3, and the judge had said witnesses could last until the week of November 14. The Justice Department’s bets were so high the agency eventually secured a conspiracy conviction. ambitious at trial nearly 30 years ago and intends to try two more times. group on fees later this year.
The disruption comes nearly a week after a juror was fired after testing positive for COVID. The federal court in Washington, where the trial was being held last week, lifted the requirement to wear masks, but the judge overseeing the trial still required those who did not speak to wear masks to avoid outbreaks. However, attorneys and defendants are occasionally seen with their noses exposed or masks pulled down below their chin.
On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, was Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath-Keepers chapter; Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oathholder; Thomas Caldwell, a retired US Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group. They also face a number of other fees.
They are among about 900 people who have been charged in the attack, which temporarily shut down Biden’s certification of victory, sent lawmakers on the run and injured dozens of police officers.
Richer reports from Boston