Prosecutors: Covington defendant in Capitol riots may be linked to extremist group | Local News

Federal prosecutors are not ruling out a connection between a Covington man charged in the U.S. Capitol riots and an extremist group accused of helping organize the uprising.

Joshua Dillon Haynes’ lawyer has said his client is not a member of the Proud Boys and has asked in court documents that prosecutors not be allowed to suggest otherwise at his trial.

In a response filed last Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Tessman wrote that while the government did not initially plan to present evidence of an association, it could become relevant if the defense opens the door — for example, arguing that Haynes does not support the proud Boys.

Prosecutors have asked a judge to deny Haynes’ motion to exclude such evidence or to postpone a decision.

The 49-year-old is charged with eight crimes in connection with a Jan. 6, 2021, uprising in which hundreds of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building as Congress met to certify an election won by President Joe Biden.

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Of the six West Virginia residents charged in the case, Haynes is the only one linked in court records to the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, another far-right group accused of seditious conspiracy by plotting to oppose through the force the legal transfer of the presidential election. Powerful.

Haynes is not charged with seditious conspiracy.

He denied being a member of the Proud Boys when questioned by the FBI during a search of his Covington home last summer. However, he told federal agents he attended a Proud Boys reunion in Fredericksburg in late 2020 and had dinner with several of its members.

Haynes said he would have joined the group if he had had a chapter closer to home, according to court records. And he voiced his support for the rioters, who he said were being treated unfairly compared to those in other movements, such as Black Lives Matter.

A document filed by prosecutors last week says that when Haynes attended two rallies held in Washington in support of Trump’s debunked claims of a stolen election, he stood close to members of the Proud Boys because he feared of being attacked “by members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter”. .”

Steven Kiersh, a Washington attorney who represents Haynes, argues that any mention of the Proud Boys at a trial scheduled for November would be “very damaging” to his client.

The question for a federal judge is whether the prejudicial nature of the evidence would outweigh its probative value.

Tessman wrote that Haynes’ connections to extremist groups could be fair game for a jury if the defendant argues he had no criminal intent to commit the crimes he is charged with.

“Therefore, evidence of Haynes’ association with the Proud Boys may be relevant at trial to show Haynes’ intent or to refute any suggestion that he ignores or does not support” the organization, Tessman wrote in opposition to the request for exclusion. the proof.

The Proud Boys have been implicated in violence at political rallies, according to the government, and describe themselves as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka the western chauvinists.

Among the charges Haynes faces are damaging the cameras, tripods and other equipment of media crews covering a horde of Trump supporters as they defeated Capitol Police officers attempting to to hold back the crowd.

“I kicked fake news a—” he reportedly wrote in one text.

Other charges include unlawful entry into restricted grounds, disorderly conduct, act of physical violence in restricted grounds and obstruction of official process.

More than 850 people across the country have been charged with taking part in the riots, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and as of July 6, about 340 have either pleaded guilty or been convicted by judges or juries.

About Jessica J. Bass

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