Capitol riot: Champaign County man pleads not guilty, prosecutors call case complex

Donovan Crowl
Donovan Crowl

A Champaign County man charged in connection to the Jan. 6 Washington D.C. Capitol riot pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday.

Donovan Crowl, 50, is charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding (and aiding and abetting), destruction of government property (and aiding and abetting) and restricted building or grounds.

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Prosecutors have said in court documents Crowl and Jessica Watkins are seen on a video inside the Capitol during the riot. They also accuse them and others of conspiring before, during and after the riot.

A federal prosecutor said during the hearing they plan on asking the judge to designate the case “complex”, which would give prosecutors more time to prepare but would also mean the case could move slower through the justice system.

The prosecutor said the reason they wanted the extra time was because of the number of defendants and the volume of evidence.

Defense attorney Carmen Hernandez, who is representing Crowl, said she would likely object to the complex designation.

She also said she plans to file a motion to release Crowl from jail. He is currently incarcerated at a D.C. area jail. A hearing for that release motion, which hasn’t been filed yet, was preliminarily set for next week.

Crowl was previously ordered detained until trial by Dayton-based federal magistrate Sharon Ovington.

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During that bond hearing in January, prosecutors successfully argued that Crowl should not be freed from jail pending trial, saying that Crowl was a member of an extremist organization, the Oath Keepers, which believes the government has been taken over “by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”

“Alongside members of that organization, this defendant committed an invasion of our nation’s Capitol. He wasn’t caught up in the moment, he drove halfway across the country, garbed himself in military attire and was ready for a fight and went there looking for it,” federal prosecutor Nick Dingeldein said.

Crowl’s defense attorney at the time pointed to Crowl’s lack of criminal record and said he would be willing to abide by conditions set by the court pending trial.

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