More than four months after some of the first guilty pleas were offered for those charged following the Capitol insurrection, only one of more than 400 defendants has accepted the prosecutors’ deal.
According to Reuters, the difficulties in reaching plea agreements are due to conflict over evidence handling. The prosecutors set conditions for defendants to turn over case-specific materials such as online databases, cell phones, and other relevant devices. But the defendants are not happy with the prison sentence the offers convey.
Legal experts project that time is still early for any negotiation to be reached, but they believe defendants will eventually agree to a deal rather than being entangled in a federal trial that would be costly and stressful, CNN reported.
If none of the conversations on guilty pleas are successful, in that case, there will be a set of individual trials for more than 400 defendants queuing up in courts, complicated owing to the COVID-19 safety measurements in hand.
The federal prosecutors rely on the evidence obtained to form plea bargains as they build cases against those who allegedly were the most critical offenders at the Capitol insurrection.
Inside “the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” the lawyers from the department compared during mid-March comprise the charges against members of far-right extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Many of them are subjected to heavy verdicts, from disorderly conduct to assaulting officers, obstructing an official proceeding, destroying government property, entering a prohibited building, and conspiracy.
The sole Capitol riot defendant who has accepted the plea bargain is Jonathan Schaffer, a founding lifetime member of Oath Keepers, who agreed to testify against the other members who joined the riot on January 6 for conspiracy charges, CBS News said.
Schaffer was previously given six charges to see him with a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. When pleading guilty for only two felony charges in exchange for relevant evidence, he was promised only three to four years behind bars.
Likewise, among the hundreds of defendants, such conditions from the prosecutors are not that reasonable, especially when their charges are not as heavy.
“We might consider something more reasonable,” said attorney Steven Metcalf, representing defendant Richard Barnett, who was given a plea deal of several years in prison. Barnett was prosecuted due to a photograph that witnessed him sitting at a desk with his feet up in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The lawyer has rejected the offer.
The riot that occurred inside the Capitol on January 6 has resulted in five deaths, including one Capitol police officer and a rioter who was shot by police. Three others died of natural causes.
Former President Donald Trump was accused of inciting chaos due to his speech on the credibility of the 2020 election result, which he believed to be potentially manipulated.
Yet, some reports provide evidence proving that the violence inside the Capitol cannot simply be attributable to pro-Trump demonstrators. An example is the exposure of Antifa extremist Kyle Cheney who was paid to record himself saying sensitive words that would paint the protesters at the scene in negative ways, or the very recent footage which proved Capitol officers allowed the mob to enter the building.