Washington: Jurors have gone home for the long Thanksgiving weekend after deliberating most of Tuesday in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot case accusing Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four of his extremist group associates of a violent plot to stop the transfer of presidential power from Republican Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden.
Federal prosecutors are asking the jury to convict the defendants of seditious conspiracy — a rarely used charge that carries up to 20 years in prison and can be difficult to prove.
The jury began deliberating Tuesday after final arguments wound up late Monday.
Prosecutors spent weeks showing jurors messages, recordings and surveillance video they say shows Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and his band of antigovernment extremists were prepared to take up arms to overturn Biden’s election victory over Trump.
Rhodes and two of his co-defendants — Thomas Caldwell, of Berryville, Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio — took the witness stand and sought to downplay their actions and portray the riot as a spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage instead of the result of a preconceived plot.
The others on trial are Kelly Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida, and Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida. Besides seditious conspiracy, all five defendants face other felony charges. If found guilty of seditious conspiracy, they would be the first defendants convicted of the Civil War-era offence at trial in nearly 30 years. The last successful case was the prosecution of Islamic militants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks.