Champaign County man charged in Capitol riot will be held without bond

Donovan Crowl
Donovan Crowl

A federal magistrate denied bond Friday to a Champaign County man accused in the Washington, D.C., Capitol riots earlier this month.

Magistrate Sharon Ovington said no conditions or combination of conditions of bond would assure her of the community’s safety if she released Donovan Crowl, 50, pending trial on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Crowl is charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to impede or injure officer, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering restricted building or grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

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“I note that the charges against the defendant are very serious,” Ovington said during her ruling. “The government alleges that he conspired with others in advance to forcibly storm the United States Capitol to impede or injure officers in order to obstruct an official proceeding. His vision is seen on video stating ‘We overran the Capitol.’ His criminal history includes alcohol and violence-related offenses. He also has demonstrated non-compliance with court order supervision.”

The ruling was announced after about a 30-minute hearing in which U.S. Attorney Nick Dingeldein and Crowl’s defense lawyer Jim Fleisher argued whether Crowl should be allowed out of the Montgomery County Jail pending trial. The prosecutor argued that the weight of the evidence against Crowl is “overwhelming” and that he is part of an extremist-militia called the Oath Keepers that refuses to acknowledge the federal government.

“The defendant performed these actions in connection with other members of an extremist organization that believes its interpretation of the laws and constitution of this country is superior than that of lawmakers, of the courts in state and federal government,” the prosecutor said. “An organization that publicly states that it will refuse to obey any legal orders that do not conform to its ideology.”

“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,” the Dingeldein said.

The prosecutor said that the Crowl has been preparing for “literally war” against the federal government. The prosecutor argued that the Oath Keepers’ leadership has commanded its members to disregard the law. He said the organization believes the current federal government is a “puppet who is a mortal enemy of this nation” and that any order — including from the federal court — should be ignored.

Dingeldein said that he was concerned that Crowl would not follow the conditions of bond and that a residence Crowl planned to live had firearms inside. The prosecutor said while it was said the guns would be removed, there was a concern that the firearms would not be removed because it would go against the Oath Keepers’ beliefs in not allowing the government to disarm its citizens.

Ovington agreed.

“The suggestion that I release him to a residence containing at least nine firearms is a non-starter,” the magistrate said.

Meanwhile, Dayton based defense attorney Jim Fleisher painted his client as a law-abiding citizen who helped rescue injured people during the riot. He said during the hearing that Crowl has a limited criminal history that includes OVI charges and that a violent crime charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence. He also said that a previous accusation of non-compliance with court orders was the result of a miscommunication that was resolved over the summer.

Fleisher said that Crowl is a military veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War and said that he has a medical condition that needs attention.

Ovington said she took the arguments into consideration but landed on her ruling to keep Crowl locked up.

Crowl is now due back in court next week for a preliminary hearing.

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