Capitol riot: Champaign County woman’s attorneys fight for her release

Jessica Watkins. Photo courtesy Miami Valley Jails.
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Jessica Watkins. Photo courtesy Miami Valley Jails.

Prosecutors: Court should keep Watkins jailed before trial “for her brazen and unapologetic participation in offenses.”

Whether a Champaign County woman charged with conspiracy and other crimes in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot should be released from jail pending trial is expected to be decided Friday.

A defense attorney and prosecutor in the case against Jessica Watkins, 38, of Woodstock, filed their arguments Thursday evening, debating whether the charges filed against her are considered a “crime of violence.” The defense is arguing that the charges are not and, therefore, she should get bond. Meanwhile, prosecutors argue that whether Watkins has been charged with a crime of violence is immaterial, but that she has been and should be detained until trial.

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Watkins is charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding (and aiding and abetting), destruction of government property (and aiding and abetting) and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. She has pleaded not guilty.

Watkins is currently incarcerated in a D.C. area jail.

United States Federal Public Defender A.J. Kramer said in a filing that Watkins should get bail.

“Congress intended for the presumption ... to be limited to an even small subset of defendants than those charged with the most serious crimes,” the defense said. “That is, the presumption was meant to apply to defendants charged with only the most serious of the most serious crimes -- crimes that are categorically ‘so strongly suggestive of a person’s willingness or inclination to resort to criminal violence as to warrant the inference that the person would be a danger to society even if released on the most restrictive conditions.’”

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Prosecutors have argued in court filings that Watkins should not be allowed bond.

“This court should thus order the defendant remain held pending trial for her brazen and unapologetic participation in offenses that are among the more threatening to our way of life,” they said.

Watkins is due in court Friday, where U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta is expected to make his ruling on whether she will be released pending trial.