Most local U.S. Capitol riot cases continue in court as 1 year approaches

Credit: Shafkat Anowar

Credit: Shafkat Anowar

The violent mob that breached the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. one year ago Thursday continues to divide the nation, a local political expert said.

Several local people have been charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol. Their cases continue to make their way through the justice system, including one case that just started.

On Jan. 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump tried to obstruct Congress from certifying the election for then President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Crowd members forced their way through, up and over Capitol Police barricades and eventually into the Capitol building.

The attack caused millions of dollars in damages, and more than 100 members of law enforcement were assaulted, court filings say. Five people died either shortly before, during or after the event, including one who was shot by a police officer and three of natural causes.

The violence was captured from many angles on live television, said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University, but it continues to be viewed in a partisan way. Democrats have held it up as a significant political event, Smith said, while many Republicans have tried to minimize it.

“To some extent, Jan. 6 has gotten caught up in the political polarization you see surrounding so many other issues,” Smith said. “Whether it’s COVID or anything else, it’s become a serious matter of debate between the right and the left.”

The attack could have been a way for political leaders from both sides of the aisle to come together, Smith said. It’s possible the debate will become less contentious as more information is released about exactly what happened leading up to and during the riot, he said.

At least 11 local people have been charged in connection to the riot. The accusations against them range in severity. Some are accused of planning to carry out the attack before it took place; another is charged with committing an act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or building. Others are accused of walking through the Capitol building.

Locals charged in the incident are Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl, of Champaign County; Bennie and Sandra Parker of Warren County; Stephanie and Brandon Miller of Bradford; Timothy Hart of Huber Heights; Therese Borgerding of Piqua; Walter Messer of Englewood; David Mehaffie of Kettering; and Jared Samuel Kastner of Beavercreek.

“The investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the attack continues to move forward at an unprecedented speed and scale,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release issued ahead of Thursday. “The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane.”

Kastner is the latest local charged. The case started in December, and he faces charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building, according to federal court records.

The FBI identified a Gmail account and phone number that was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and associated with Kastner. Records from Google placed the device associated with the account inside the Capitol from 2:14 to 2:52 p.m., according to court records.

Brandon and Stephanie Miller, of Bradford, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and were recently sentenced to less than a month in jail.

The other local people charged are all awaiting trials.

The DOJ said more than 725 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More than 225 have been charged “with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including over 75 individuals who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer,” the DOJ said.

About 640 people have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds. And about 165 people have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges in connection with the breach, the DOJ said.

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