An Ohio man charged with storming the U.S. Capitol and stealing a coat rack testified that he joined hundreds of protesters in ransacking the constructing final 12 months on what he thought have been orders from the president, Donald Trump.
Dustin Byron Thompson, 38, of Columbus, Ohio, mentioned Wednesday he took to web sites after being laid off from his exterminator job in March 2020 and in his pandemic doldrums fell underneath Trump’s sway as he purchased into conspiracy theories and “went down the rabbit gap on the web.”
On trial in U.S. District Courtroom in Washington, Thompson testified that the declare that the election was stolen appeared credible to him as a result of it was coming from the president. His protection crew is the primary to argue that Trump and people linked to him have been chargeable for the actions of the mob that day.
“It looks as if everybody was attacking him (Trump). He wanted somebody to face up for him, and I used to be making an attempt to do this,” Thompson mentioned.
Beneath questioning by the prosecution, Thompson acknowledged that he ignored indicators he shouldn’t be on the Capitol — damaged glass, alarms, chemical irritants within the air — and mentioned he stole the coat rack to maintain others from utilizing it as a weapon. He additionally mentioned he witnessed fierce combating between police and rioters outdoors the constructing, and later ran away from officers. He mentioned he realized weeks later that what he had accomplished was flawed and now feels disgrace for his actions.
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Thompson’s jury trial is the third amongst a whole lot of Capitol riot prosecutions. The primary two ended with jurors convicting each defendants on all counts. Thompson’s protection crew is the primary to argue that Trump and people linked to him have been chargeable for the actions of the mob that day.
“If the president is providing you with nearly an order to do one thing, I felt obligated to do this,” Thompson testified.
Thompson’s lawyer sought subpoenas to name Trump and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as witnesses, however U.S. District Choose Reggie Walton rejected that request. Jurors on Wednesday started listening to recordings of speeches that Trump and Giuliani delivered at a rally earlier than the riot. They have been anticipated to complete listening to recordings Thursday morning and start deliberations later within the day.
Thompson’s spouse, Sarah Thompson, testified that she voted for Democrat Joe Biden, in addition to Democratic presidential nominees Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. She mentioned her husband’s views have been extra reasonable then however shifted throughout the Trump years as he began encountering conspiracy theories. She mentioned she didn’t share his views however helped organize his journey to Washington for the “Cease the Steal” rally close to the White Home as a result of he had a proper to protest and she or he loved having a quiet home.
A lot of the prosecution’s case was constructed round testimony from a number of Capitol Law enforcement officials inserting Thompson on the scene, carrying a bulletproof vest that he mentioned he discovered, and carrying a coat rack he took from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Workplace.
Greater than 770 folks have been charged with federal crimes arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. Over 250 of them have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanors. Thompson is the fifth particular person to be tried on riot-related prices.
On Monday, a jury convicted a former Virginia police officer, Thomas Robertson, of storming the Capitol with one other off-duty officer to impede Congress from certifying Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Final month, a jury convicted a Texas man, Man Reffitt, of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun.
A choose listening to testimony and not using a jury determined instances in opposition to two different Capitol riot defendants at separate bench trials. U.S. District Choose Trevor McFadden acquitted one among them of all prices and partially acquitted the opposite.
Thompson is charged with six counts: obstructing Congress’ joint session to certify the Electoral Faculty vote, theft of presidency property, getting into or remaining in a restricted constructing or grounds, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted constructing or grounds, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a Capitol constructing, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol constructing.
A co-defendant, Robert Lyon, 27, pleaded responsible in March to theft of presidency property and disorderly conduct. Each counts are misdemeanors punishable by a most of 1 12 months imprisonment. Walton is scheduled to condemn Lyon on June 3.
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