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Gravette man’s Capitol-riot trial delayed until December

by Bill Bowden | July 19, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.
Richard Barnett

Richard "Bigo" Barnett's Capitol-riot trial has been pushed back from Sept. 6 to Dec. 12 because his attorney is suffering from covid-19 and Lyme disease.

"I'm not feeling great right now," Joseph D. McBride told a District of Columbia federal judge during a teleconference hearing Monday. "I'm sure I'll be able to overcome it. I just need to get there."

Barnett, 62, of Gravette faces felony charges for taking a dangerous weapon -- a stun gun -- into the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. He became widely known after photographs circulated of him sitting with his foot propped on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office suite.

He has pleaded innocent.

McBride told the court Monday that he has had covid-19 twice. He said doctors discovered the Lyme disease while trying to determine why he was having trouble recovering from the coronavirus.

"I need a bit of rest," McBride said. "I'm told by the doctors I should be OK. I just need to be able to go through the treatment."

In a motion last week, McBride wrote, "Treatment and recovery are expected to take, at a minimum -- somewhere between one to two months."

"Obviously, the court is sympathetic to your health conditions but my concern obviously is the indefinite nature of your potential recovery," said U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper. "I'm not in a position to just continue the trial indefinitely."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lyle Dohrmann said the government "wishes to proceed to trial and resolve this case but understands the seriousness of Mr. McBride's representation."

Cooper reset Barnett's trial, with jury selection to begin Dec. 12. The judge also extended the deadlines for attorneys to file pre-trial motions by 60 days.

If Barnett is unable to attend the trial at that time, another attorney must step in, Cooper said. He mentioned that Steven Alan Metcalf II is also listed as an attorney in Barnett's case.

McBride said he hadn't discussed with Metcalf the possibility of him taking over as lead attorney for Barnett.

If neither McBride nor Metcalf could represent Barnett in the December trial, Barnett would have to find another attorney or the court would appoint one for him, Cooper said.

Federal prosecutors offered a plea agreement that would have required Barnett to spend more than five years in prison. McBride rejected it, saying it was "not reasonable."

The Jan. 6 riot escalated from a "Stop the Steal" rally in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump entered the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote indicating that Joe Biden had won the presidential election.

Besides Barnett, Peter Francis Stager, 43, of Conway also faces felony charges in connection with the riot. Stager remains in the District of Columbia jail. He is the only Jan. 6 defendant from Arkansas still incarcerated.

Jon Thomas Mott, 39, of Yellville faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the Jan. 6 breach.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Robert Thomas Snow, 78, of Heber Springs pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for "parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building." He was sentenced to probation and community service.

Print Headline: Capitol riot trial delayed until Dec. 12


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