Tuesday Mar 21, 2023
WASHINGTON: Four associates of the far-right Oath Keepers group were found guilty on Monday for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, but the Washington jury remained deadlocked on some serious charges for two other defendants who did not enter the building during the chaos.
Oath Keeper associates Sandra Ruth Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding - a charge that can carry up to 20 years in prison, as well as several other felony and misdemeanour charges.
Michael Greene and Bennie Parker, the two who did not enter the Capitol building, were acquitted on the most serious felony charges, though the jury remained deadlocked on one outstanding felony count for each man.
US District Judge Amit Mehta instructed the jury to go back and continue to deliberate on the two remaining counts.
Greene and Bennie Parker were found guilty, however, on lesser misdemeanour charges of entering a restricted building or grounds.
The verdict marks the end of the third major trial against members of the extremist group, who were among the thousands of Donald Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's November 2020 election win.
Then-president Trump, a Republican, fired up the crowd on Jan. 6 with false claims that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud. He has continued to repeat those false claims, which have been rejected by multiple courts and members of his own administration, as he seeks the Republican nomination to run in 2024.
The Oath Keepers is a militia group founded by Stewart Rhodes in 2009 whose members include current and retired US military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders.
Four people died during the chaos on Jan. 6, and five police officers died of various causes after the attack. Then-Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress and staff ran for their lives as rioters breached the building.
The first two Oath Keeper trials involved members or associates of the group who were each facing one count of seditious conspiracy - a charge that was not included in this latest case.
Rhodes and the group's Florida chapter leader, Kelly Meggs, were convicted in November of seditious conspiracy for plotting to use force to try to block Congress from certifying Biden's 2020 victory.
Four other members of the group were also convicted in January on seditious conspiracy, as well as other charges.
In this latest case, prosecutors said that Sandra Parker, Laura Steele, William Isaacs and Connie Meggs, who is married to Kelly Meggs, forcibly entered the Capitol in a "stack" formation, with some of them trying to push their way toward the Senate Chamber.
Greene and Bennie Parker did not physically enter the building, but prosecutors said they were part of the conspiracy.
The jury on Monday was deadlocked over whether to convict Bennie Parker for conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and remained deadlocked over whether to convict Greene for obstructing an official proceeding.
Prosecutors have brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 people following the riot.