Man who carried Confederate flag to Capitol stands trial

A federal judge’s acquittal of a New Mexico man in April was a rare blemish on the Justice Department’s record of securing convictions in the U.S. Capitol riot cases. More than two months later, a Delaware father and son are hoping the same judge will clear them as well.

Widely published photographs showed Kevin Seefried carrying a Confederate battle flag inside the Capitol after entering the building with his son, Hunter. The Seefrieds were “early, aggressive and active participants” in the Capitol breach and among the first rioters to enter the bulling on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden will hear evidence without a jury for the Seefrieds’ trial, which is set to begin Monday. They waived their right to a jury trial, which means McFadden will decide their cases.

McFadden, whom President Donald Trump appointed in 2017, has criticized prosecutors’ handling of Capitol riot cases. He suggested the Justice Department was unfairly tougher on those charged with the Capitol riots than those arrested in protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer .

McFadden also criticized prosecutors for seeking jail time for some nonviolent defendants of the Capitol riots, but not for left-wing activists who protested Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the report reported. Washington Post.

In April, McFadden acquitted New Mexico resident Matthew Martin of misdemeanor charges that he unlawfully entered the Capitol and engaged in disorderly conduct after entering the building.

Martin testified that a police officer waved him into the building. A prosecutor dismissed that testimony as “nonsense,” but McFadden said it was reasonable for Martin to believe that outnumbered police allowed him to enter the Capitol through the Rotunda gates.

In March, McFadden acquitted a New Mexico elected official of disorderly conduct, but found him guilty of unlawfully entering the restricted grounds of the Capitol. The judge said there was ample evidence that Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin knew he was in a restricted area and had not left. However, McFadden concluded that prosecutors failed in their obligation to prove that Griffin engaged in disorderly conduct.

McFadden is the only judge to hold a bench trial for a Capitol riot case so far.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is scheduled to preside over a bench trial for Jesus Rivera, a Pensacola, Florida man charged with four riot-related misdemeanors. President Bill Clinton nominated Kollar-Kotelly to the court in 1997.

At least four other Capitol riot defendants have en banc trials scheduled for this year.

Juries unanimously convicted five Capitol Riot defendants of all charges, a perfect record for prosecutors so far. More than 300 others have pleaded guilty to rioting charges, most of them punishable by more than a year in prison. About 100 more have trial dates in 2022 or 2023. More than 800 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack.

The Seefrieds traveled to Washington from their home in Laurel, Delaware, to hear Trump’s speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. After the rally, they pulled over by their car before joining the crowd that stormed the Capitol, prosecutors said. .

The Seefrieds scaled a wall near a stairwell and scaffolding in the northwest part of the Capitol and were among the first rioters to approach the building near the Senate wing door, according to prosecutors. After watching other rioters use a police shield and a wooden plank to smash a window, Hunter Seefried used a gloved fist to clean a shard of glass from one of the shattered windows, prosecutors said.

“The defendants and dozens of other rioters entered the Capitol building through this window,” prosecutors wrote.

The Seefrieds joined other rioters to confront Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman and to search for members of Congress and the location where they would count Electoral College votes for the 2020 presidential election, according to the prosecutors.

Goodman, who is expected to testify at the Seefrieds’ trial, was hailed a hero for leading a group of rioters away from the Senate chamber and up a flight of stairs to an area where other officers were waiting. Goodman also ordered Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to turn around and walk away from the crowd.

Kevin Seefried told the FBI he threatened Goodman with violence, saying, “And then I threw my stick. I said, ‘You can shoot me, man, but we’re coming,'” according to the prosecutors.

Kevin Seefried brought a Confederate battle flag from home and was photographed displaying it on a tall pole as he walked through the Capitol.

“Indeed, the flag that Kevin Seefried himself carried served to signal his intent: the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of violent opposition to the government of the United States,” prosecutors wrote.

The charges against Kevin and Hunter Seefried include one count of obstructing due process, the joint session of Congress to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Hunter Seefried told the FBI he traveled to Washington because he was concerned about “fraud” related to the election, prosecutors said.

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