Jurors have returned verdicts in the seditious conspiracy trial of five Oath Keeper leaders accused of conspiring to forcibly prevent then-President Donald Trump’s peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden after the 2020 election.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys confirmed to CNN that a verdict has been reached. Jurors deliberated for more than 17 hours.
The jury, consisting of seven men and five women, considered the charges against defendants Stuart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrison and Thomas Caldway Ten counts against Hall, including three separate counts of conspiracy, obstruction of the Electoral College vote and tampering with evidence.
All five pleaded not guilty. Each of the defendants could face up to 20 years in federal prison if they are convicted of the most serious crimes.
“After these weeks, the case is finally yours,” District Judge Amit Mehta told jurors last week at the conclusion of a two-month presentation of evidence.
Key moments in closing arguments: Prosecutors weaved together information, video, testimony and records to show how defendants, allegedly from across the country, banded together to plan and execute a method to keep Trump in office by any means necessary.
“For these defendants, the attack on the Capitol was a means to an end,” said prosecutor Catherine Racoczy, adding that the defendants “pretentiously defended their version of the law, their belief in what should have happened version of that election.”
Rakoczy continued, “A sense of entitlement that leads to frustration, followed by anger, and then violence. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of this conspiracy.”
Rakocic rejected arguments put forward by the defense, telling jurors that despite claiming there was no express order to enter the Capitol that day, there was clearly a conspiracy to prevent Biden from taking office in any way.
Lawyers for the defendants have repeatedly told the jury that there are no government witnesses — including former members of the Keepers of the Oath who were there on Jan. 1. 6 – It can be shown that there was a plan to attack the Capitol directly.
“Call it the Big Three,” said Rhodes’ attorney, James Lee Bright. “There is no plan to attack the Capitol… There is no plan to destroy the Rotunda… There is no plan to stop or delay voter certification.”
Others were more direct, including Watkins’ attorney, Jonathan Crisp, who told jurors the government had lied to them and called the trial “the work of Michael Bay.”
In a final condemnation, Chief Prosecutor Geoffrey Nestler called on jurors to see the defendants, most of them veterans, as traitors to the very country they claimed to protect.