Proud Boys Seditious Conspiracy Trial: Four individuals affiliated with the extremist group known as the Proud Boys were found guilty on Thursday. They were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6th assault on the United States Capitol.
Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, and Zachary Rehl were convicted of the rare charge of seditious conspiracy under a statute dating back to the Civil War era. However, Dominic Pezzola, another member of the group, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy. In addition to the seditious conspiracy, Tarrio, Biggs, Nordean, and Rehl were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The jury, unable to reach a consensus, resulted in a mistrial for Pezzola on the same charge. Let’s dive into the details of the proud boys seditious conspiracy trial.
How Many People Were Convicted of the Capitol Attack?
All five members of the Proud Boys faced nine counts related to the January 6th attack. Pezzola, who was captured on video breaking a window with a Capitol Police shield and admitted his actions during the trial. He was separately charged and found guilty of stealing the police shield, bringing the total counts against him to ten. Pezzola was also convicted of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers. The other four defendants were acquitted of this charge.
The jury delivered a partial verdict, leading to a mistrial on several other counts where a unanimous decision was not reached.
When did the Trial Start?
This lengthy trial spanned four months, commencing with jury selection in December and opening arguments in early January. It marked the third seditious conspiracy case to be presented before a jury since the Capitol attack. In prior trials, six members of the extremist Oath Keepers group, including founder Stewart Rhodes, were convicted on the same charge across two separate proceedings in November and January.
Jeremy Bertino, a prominent figure within the Proud Boys pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in October. He testified for the prosecution as part of a plea deal. Bertino stated during the trial that the Proud Boys believed it was imperative to take any necessary action to safeguard the country.
Prosecutors contended that the Proud Boys were eager for violence on January 6th. They had premeditated plans to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory by resorting to force if required.
What did the Defense Attorney Say?
In their defense, attorneys argued that the Justice Department was using the group as a scapegoat. They diverted the blame from the actual responsible party for the events of January 6th: Donald Trump.
During the trial, two defendants took the stand. Rehl, the leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, and Pezzola, a floor installer from New York referred to as “Spaz” by other group members. Shortly before Rehl was due to be cross-examined, online investigators surfaced videos suggesting his deployment of pepper spray toward officers. Although Rehl was not charged with assaulting law enforcement, he denied the allegations during the trial. Pezzola grew increasingly agitated during his testimony. He introduced conspiracy theories about another January 6th participant, Ray Epps. He also expressed frustration with the perceived fraudulent charges and trial.
The prosecution’s greatest challenge lay in persuading the jury that Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, was involved in the conspiracy. Tarrio spent January 6th in a Baltimore hotel after being banned from Washington the previous day. During the trial, encrypted messages revealed that Tarrio had received a message from an individual interested in “storming the Capitol.” However, he did not explicitly endorse the plan. Prosecutors conceded that much of the events on January 6th unfolded spontaneously. However, they were able to demonstrate that Tarrio desired a “spectacle” on that day and celebrated the attack on the Capitol afterward. He gave credit to the Proud Boys for the breach.
Numerous additional members of the Proud Boys have admitted guilt for their involvement in the events of January 6th. One of them faced trial concurrently with the ongoing seditious conspiracy trial. Joshua Pruitt, a bartender from Washington, D.C., who joined the Proud Boys and participated in storming the Capitol, received a prison sentence of 4.5 years in August. In December, Nicholas Ochs, the individual responsible for establishing the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to four years in prison.
Judge Kelly will be responsible for issuing the final sentences to the defendants.