Slurring of Pelosi disputed by defense; Arkansan wrote ‘biatd,’ filing says

Washington County Sheriff booking of Richard Barnett, January 8, 2021. (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Richard "Bigo" Barnett of Gravette didn't call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a b--- in that note he left in her office during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, his defense says.

The word he actually used was "biatd," according to a filing Monday in federal court for the District of Columbia.

The note said "Hey Nancy Bigo was here biatd," according to the 19-page court filing from Barnett's attorney, Joseph D. McBride, Esq., of New York City.

"Instead of writing the accusatory 'You b---' as the government falsely states, it only says 'biatd' and without the word 'you,'" McBride wrote in a footnote. "On information and belief, the 'd' was meant to be two letters, 'c' and 'h' with the 'c' connected to an 'h' to spell the word 'biatch,' which is a slang and less offensive word for 'b---.'"

McBride cited, saying it defined "biatch" as "slang... used as a term of endearment or disparagement for another person."

After entering Pelosi's office Jan. 6 and posing for photos with his feet on a desk, Barnett, 60, became one of the "stars of this assault," Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said after a Jan. 28 hearing in which she ordered pretrial detention for Barnett.

In a video outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, Barnett told a reporter that he left a note behind saying, "Nancy, Bigo was here, you b---."

McBride has been trying to get another federal judge, Christopher R. Cooper, who is now handling the case, to release Barnett so he can go home to Arkansas until his trial, which has not yet been scheduled.

McBride said federal prosecutors are trying to put his client in a bad light.

"The government's misrepresentation of Exhibit 7 [the note] is its latest deliberate attempt to mislead this court by casting Mr. Barnett in the worst possible light in order to ensure that pretrial release is not granted in this case," wrote McBride.

Barnett is a good family man who doesn't have a criminal record, according to Monday's court filing.

A grand jury indicted Barnett on seven charges in connection with the riot, including 18 U.S.C. 1752(a)(1) and (b)(1) (A), Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The weapon was a ZAP Hike N' Strike 950,000 Volt Stun Gun Walking Stick that Barnett purchased at a Bass Pro Shop in Rogers on Dec. 31, according to court filings.

Barnett's attorneys argue that it wasn't a dangerous weapon because it had no batteries in it during the Capitol melee.

"Unlike the cases where people used flag poles and axe handles as weapons against law enforcement, Richard is never shown using the device to hit, poke, stab or stun anyone; rather, he is simply covering it with his hand so it is not dislodged from his person, and to protect himself from being further injured," McBride wrote in Monday's filing.

The federal government has failed to prove that Barnett is dangerous or a flight risk, according to his attorney.

Barnett has been charged with two felony offenses: the dangerous weapon charge and one count of violating 18 U.S.C. 1512 (c)(2).

But Section 1512 doesn't apply to Barnett, wrote McBride.

Under Section 1512, the full subsection (c) states:

(c) Whoever corruptly --

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

"Mr. Barnett did not destroy documents used in the proceeding," wrote McBride. "His presence in Speaker Pelosi's office for six minutes and later in the Rotunda where he was directed to go after the vote counting was temporarily suspended does not constitute 'corruptly ... obstruct[ing], influenc[ing] or imped[ing]' the 'official proceeding.'

"As such, the government cannot argue that Barnett's and other the protesters' lawful presence outside the Capitol was intended to 'influence' the vote counting inside," wrote McBride.

Barnett took an envelope from Pelosi's office, but he gave it to the FBI when he turned himself in on Jan. 8, wrote McBride.

Barnett didn't engage in any planning before arriving at the Capitol, according to his attorney.

"Richard is not a member of any of the groups alleged to have organized and participated in violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021," wrote McBride. "There is no evidence that he knew of a plan to attack the Capitol, coordinated any attack on the Capitol, or carried a map of the Capitol. Despite this reality, the government continues to unjustly associate the premeditated acts of others with Richard."

Investigators have yet to recover the cellphone Barnett had with him at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

McBride's filing was in response to one from federal prosecutors arguing that Barnett should remain in custody until his trial. Barnett's attorneys had filed an earlier motion requesting that he be released on bond. A hearing on the issue of detention is scheduled for today.

Barnett faces these charges:

18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2) and 18 U.S.C. 2; Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting

18 U.S.C. 1752(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon

18 U.S.C. 1752(a)(2) and (b)(1)(A); Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon

40 U.S.C. 5104(e)(2)(C); Entering and Remaining in Certain Rooms in a Capitol Building

40 U.S.C. 5104(e)(2)(D); Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building

40 U.S.C. 5104(e)(2)(G); Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

18 U.S.C. 641; Theft of Government Property (an envelope)