Trump-appointed choose convicts three Jan. 6 defendants however acquits two of them on obstruction cost

WASHINGTON — A federal choose in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday handed down verdicts within the trial of three Jan. 6 defendants that might have a significant affect on the trajectory of Capitol assault prosecutions going ahead.

Patrick McCaughey, Tristan Stevens and David Mehaffie had been discovered responsible on most, however not all, of the costs in opposition to them. The three males had appeared for a bench, or nonjury, trial earlier than U.S. District Decide Trevor McFadden, a Donald Trump appointee who’s the one federal choose in Washington, D.C., who has acquitted a Jan. 6 defendant.

Every defendant confronted a lot of prison prices, together with felony counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and aiding and abetting; obstruction of an official continuing; and civil dysfunction.

McCaughey was convicted on each rely he confronted, though the choose didn’t discover that he had used a police defend as a lethal or harmful weapon throughout one of many assaults he was convicted on. Federal prosecutors requested that McCaughey be taken into custody after his conviction, and he was led away in handcuffs.

Mehaffie was convicted of a number of counts together with felony counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and civil dysfunction, however the choose discovered him not responsible of a felony rely of obstruction of an official continuing, which might have uncovered Mehaffie to vital jail time.

Stevens was additionally acquitted of the obstruction cost, however convicted on a lot of prices together with three felony counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and a rely of civil dysfunction.

Federal prosecutors have secured responsible verdicts on each cost introduced in opposition to each defendant in jury trials, to this point. A combined verdict within the bench trial of McCaughey, Stevens and Mehaffie might encourage much more defendants to strive their luck at a bench trial at a time when the Justice Division, FBI and Washington, D.C., federal court docket system are struggling to maintain tempo with a large investigation that has packed the court docket docket, with a whole bunch extra arrests nonetheless but to come back.

Whereas McFadden had beforehand acquitted two defendants on misdemeanor prices (one defendant of all prices, one other defendant of one in every of his prices), neither he nor any choose or jury had acquitted a Capitol defendant on a felony cost. That modified on Tuesday.

The case facilities across the location of among the most brutal violence of Jan. 6, on the prime of the platform that had been arrange for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The “tunnel” on the prime of the short-term scaffolding — which one choose known as “the entranceway for Girl Gaga” due to her efficiency on the inauguration — noticed among the most violent clashes between rioters and police, as a whole bunch of Trump supporters tried to pressure their means contained in the Capitol. Cops sustained a number of critical accidents on the location as rioters dragged officers out of the tunnel, together with former Metropolitan Police Division Officer Michael Fanone, who had a stun gun pushed into his neck.

On-line sleuths dubbed McCaughey #ThePinman, Stevens #ShaggyProfessor, and Mehaffie #TunnelCommander. Mehaffie was recognized by on-line sleuths with the assistance of a facial recognition hit on his Classmates.com profile. He earned the nickname as a result of footage reveals Mehaffie serving as a sort of crossing guard for rioters, standing above and watching the battle whereas directing different rioters out and in of the tunnel. He’s additionally seen grabbing a stick as officers attempt to pressure him off the ledge.

Footage performed at trial additionally reveals Mehaffie encouraging members of the mob to climb over a retaining wall on the restricted grounds of the U.S. Capitol earlier than he reached the tunnel the place among the worst violence of Jan. 6 happened.

“If we will not struggle over this wall, we will not win this battle! Come on!” Mehaffie yells as he encourages others over the retaining wall.

A scene from a tunnel in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A scene from a tunnel within the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that includes Mehaffie, standing and pointing on the entrance to the tunnel (in entrance of the Trump flag).NBC Information

Mehaffie testified throughout his trial and portrayed his point out of a “battle” as an ideological battle slightly than a bodily one.

“Should you imagine our nation’s in bother, we actually are in in a battle as as to if you arise, we get known as names and get lumped into teams. So that’s precisely the battle I’m speaking about,” Mehaffie testified. “Should you can’t enter into the battle of concepts, you’ve, you’ve misplaced all of your freedoms.”

Mehaffie conceded, beneath cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Legal professional Kimberly Paschall, that the mob “knew” that police “needed us to depart.” Beneath questioning from his personal lawyer, he additionally stated he wished he hadn’t held a stolen police defend up for the cheering crowd, saying it was “precisely the other” of what he claimed he needed to convey.

Patrick McCaughey III at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Patrick McCaughey III on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. U.S. District Court docket for the District of Columbia

MPD Officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door through the Jan. 6 assault, testified for the prosecution about how he was pinned by a police defend being held by defendant McCaughey.

“It, mixed with all the things else that was occurring, made it tough to breathe,” Hodges testified. “Being crushed by the defend and the individuals behind it … leaving me defenseless, injured.”

“There isn’t any good strategy to struggle again in opposition to it,” Hodges stated. “You must endure the stress that it creates.”

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell additionally testified, the second time he is carried out so in a Capitol assault trial.

Video reveals Stevens grabbing a baton, however his protection legal professional steered that Stevens was solely attempting to defend himself, in response to The Washington Submit.

“If my reminiscence serves right, we the officers had been those on obligation that day, not him,” Gonell responded, in response to The Washington Submit.

Tristan Stevens, indicated by the red square, at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Tristan Stevens, indicated by the purple sq., on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Dept. of Justice

Video additionally reveals Stevens asking officers in the event that they knew “what occurs to” traitors, as WUSA9 reported.

“They get tied to a submit and shot,” an individual recognized in court docket filings as Stevens stated, WUSA9 reported. “Are you prepared for that?”

Decide McFadden stated Tuesday that he relied totally on video within the case, saying that the officers who testified within the trial added “little” to what the video confirmed. McFadden — a former police officer himself — critiqued officers Hodges and Gonell, saying the 2 acted extra as victims and fewer as witnesses after they testified on the stand, though he praised them for his or her actions on Jan. 6.

“No police officer ought to have needed to endure these assaults,” McFadden stated.

Within the sprawling Capitol investigation, the FBI has arrested greater than 850 individuals, and greater than 350 defendants have pleaded responsible. Sentences have ranged from probation to a decade in federal jail for a former New York Metropolis Police Division officer who assaulted a Washington, D.C., police officer on Jan. 6 after which lied on the stand.

Eight Capitol assault defendants who took their circumstances to a jury — Man Reffitt, Thomas Robertson, Dustin Thompson, Thomas Webster, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, Anthony Robert Williams, Matthew Bledsoe, and Erik Herrera — had been convicted on each rely.

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