A Thomasville woman has been convicted along with several other members of a far-right militia group on charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and storming of the U.S. Capitol.
After a week of deliberations, the jury found Laura Lee Steele, 54, guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding of Congress, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from discharging their duties, destruction of government property, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, obstructing officers during a civil disorder and tampering with documents or materials.
Her sentencing hearing has not yet been set. She remains free while awaiting sentencing.
Three other members of the Oath Keepers who were tried along with Steele during the past month in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. — Sandra Parker, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs also were found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction and entering a restricted building.
Another man, Bennie Parker, was convicted of obstruction and entering restricted grounds, while a sixth, Michael Greene, was convicted only of entering restricted grounds. Parker and Greene, unlike the other four, were not accused of going inside the Capitol.
Authorities say the Oath Keepers prepared for weeks leading up to Jan. 6, attended training sessions and recruited others to come to Washington, while the Oath Keepers have denied there was any plot to storm the Capitol or stop the certification.
Earlier Monday, the lawyers for the six Oath Keepers sought to have the trial thrown out because of two video clips the jury improperly was given to review.
Judge Amit Mehta of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., had prohibited the short video clips’ use during the trial, but they were included in a montage that was among evidence the jurors were allowed to review during their deliberations, CNN reported. Neither of the videos showed actions taken by Steele or the other defendants.
The jury began deliberations on March 10.
A defense lawyer first noticed the mistake last Wednesday, but Mehta was not told until Friday, CNN said.
The defense attorneys asked Monday for Mehta to declare a mistrial, but Mehta flatly refused.
He noted that the attorneys had been able to review in advance the materials that the jurors were going to be given, and most of them had signed a filing saying that they had no objection to them, CNN reported.
This was the third trial of Oath Keepers members since last fall, but unlike the first two, none of this group of defendants was charged with seditious conspiracy.
The first two trials involved leaders in the Oath Keepers, and six of them — including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — were convicted of seditious conspiracy.
This third trial received little publicity during its four weeks of testimony, largely because all of the media attention has been focused on the seditious conspiracy trial of several leaders of the Proud Boys.
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