(CNN) The conspiracy trial of six people affiliated with the far-right militant group Oath Keepers descended into chaos Monday after revelations that the jury had access in their ongoing deliberations to two videos that the judge had banned during the trial. .
Defense attorneys sought a mistrial after discovering that the two videos, which were part of a montage made by federal prosecutors to show the general violence that occurred on January 6, 2021, were released to jurors for review. revision.
Neither video shows actions taken by either defendant while in the US Capitol: a seven-second clip shows rioters storming the west side of the building, while the other video shows rioters Law enforcement officers accosted by rioters while trying to close a door at the Capitol Visitors Center.
“I just can’t believe that the only remedy at this point is a mistrial,” US District Judge Amit Mehta said Monday morning in a Washington, DC court, denying the mistrial request. “I might be wrong.”
Defense attorney Juli Haller first pointed out the error on Wednesday, prosecutors said, but the situation was not brought before the judge until Friday. Haller, who has clashed with Mehta before, said jurors had access to the footage for several days and have already reached a verdict on some aspects.
“This is how testing works, for those of you who haven’t done it before,” Mehta replied. Defense attorneys were able to review evidence that was turned over to jurors, she said, and most had signed a document saying they “jointly agreed to the evidence” with prosecutors.
“None of the defense attorneys did what I asked,” Mehta said.
“Everyone had at least one weekend to ask for what had been returned and review it,” Mehta added. “The defense attorney didn’t. That’s fine.”
In a particularly tense moment, Haller interrupted Mehta to say that he had not signed that agreement with prosecutors.
“I am asking?” Mehta responded, ordering him to sit down and not interrupt again. Mehta also instructed at least two other defense attorneys, William Shipley and Eugene Rossi, to sit through the tense exchange.
After the argument concluded, the jurors were summoned to the courtroom and told to ignore the two videos.
“I’m not going to ask if they’ve been reviewed,” Mehta told the jury. “If you haven’t reviewed them, I’ll ask you to ignore them. If you have, please ignore.”
Mehta also instructed the jury to “reconsider the verdicts” they had already reached “in light of the absence of these videos.”
A juror raised her hand and asked Mehta if the jury panel would be allowed to review the two clips and see if they were taken into consideration during their deliberations over the past week. When the judge said no, the juror turned to another juror and both raised their hands. A third juror took a deep breath and put his hands behind his head.
The jury will resume its deliberations Monday morning with a new copy of the evidence, which excludes the two videos.
The defendants are Sandra Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs, who allegedly entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Two other defendants, Michael Greene and Bennie Parker, did not, prosecutors say. They all pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors rest in Proud Boys seditious conspiracy case after nine weeks of courtroom drama
In the same D.C. courthouse on Monday, federal prosecutors rested their case in the trial against five members of the Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
Prosecutors presented evidence to the jury that they say shows four leaders of the far-right four, Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, encouraging other members of the organization to act violently on Capitol Hill on September 6. January 2021.
Prosecutors allege that Tarrio, who was the organization’s president, conspired with his close aides Nordean, Biggs and Rehl in the lead up to the riots and recruited others to help prevent Joe Biden from becoming president. They say Nordean, Biggs and Rehl, who were at the Capitol that day, stepped back and allowed other members to take action and then followed closely once the path was cleared.
The fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola, was among those who acted violently at their behest, according to prosecutors. Tarrio was not at the Capitol that day.
All five defendants have pleaded not guilty. His lawyers have begun calling defense witnesses.
Although jury selection began in late December, the trial began in earnest with opening statements in January. Prosecutors’ nine-week presentation of evidence was marred by courtroom drama, hijinks and the judge’s threats to hold defense attorneys in contempt.