WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – A federal jury has convicted a former Virginia police officer of attacking the US Capitol with another off-duty officer to obstruct Congress from authenticating President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory .
Juries on Monday indicted former Rocky Mount police officer Thomas Robertson on all six counts of the January 6, 2021 riots, including charges that he interfered with police officers at the Capitol and a man with a dangerous weapon. Enter the restricted area. A big wooden stick.
His sentencing hearing was not immediately scheduled.
Robertson’s jury trial was the second in hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The first ended last month in which jurors convicted a Texas man, Guy Refitt, on all five counts in his indictment.
Robertson did not testify at his trial, which began last Tuesday. The jurors deliberated for several hours over two days before reaching their unanimous decision.
One juror, who spoke only to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, exited the courthouse, saying, “I think the government made a really compelling case and the evidence was overwhelming.”
Defense attorney Mark Rollins said Robertson would appeal the jury’s decision. “While Mr. Robertson disagrees with the jury’s decision, he respects the rule of law,” Rollins said in a statement.
A key witness for prosecutors in his case was Jacob Fraker, who also served in the Rocky Mount Police Force and viewed Robertson as a mentor and father figure. Fraker was scheduled to go to trial with Robertson before pleading guilty to conspiracy charges last month and agreeing to cooperate with authorities. Fraker testified Thursday that he hoped the mob attacking the Capitol could reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Robertson was charged with six counts: obstructing Congress, interfering with officers during a civil disorder, entering a restricted area while carrying a dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted area while at the Capitol. Inside a dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct. construction, and obstruction. The last allegation stems from the subsequent destruction of an alleged riot of cellphones belonging to him and Fraker.
During the trial’s closing arguments on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Bercower said Robertson went to Washington and joined a “violent vigilante mob” because she believed the election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump. He said he used a wooden stick to intervene with the police in large numbers before joining the crowd coming to the Capitol.
“The defendant did all this because he wanted to reverse the election,” Berkover said.
Rollins admitted that Robertson broke the law upon entering the Capitol during the riots. He encouraged jurors to convict Robertson of misdemeanor offenses, but urged them to acquit Robertson of felony charges that he used the stick as a dangerous weapon and that he intended to get Congress to vote for the Electoral College. was to be prevented from authenticating.
“There was no plan to go down there and say, ‘I’m going to stop Congress from doing this vote,'” Rollins said.
Fraker testified that he initially believed he was only trespassing when he entered the Capitol building. However, he eventually pleaded guilty to conspiring with Robertson to obstruct Congress.
Under cross-examination by Rollins, Fraker stated that he had no “verbal agreement” with anyone to obstruct a joint session of Congress. Fraker said he believed everyone in the crowd “had pretty much the same goal” and that it didn’t need to be “said out loud”.
Robertson and Fraker went to Washington with a neighbor on the morning of January 6. According to prosecutors, Robertson brought three gas masks for his use.
Prosecutors said after hearing a speech near the Washington Monument, Fraker, Robertson and neighbors walked to the Capitol, donned gas masks and joined a growing crowd. Robertson stopped to help his neighbor, who was having trouble breathing. Fraker breaks down and enters the building before Robertson, but they are reunited inside the Capitol.
Defense attorney Camille Wagner told jurors that Robertson only went to the Capitol because he wanted to retrieve Fraker, who had entered the Capitol minutes before Robertson. Wagner said a US military veteran was using a stick to help him walk because he was paralyzed by a bullet in his right thigh while working as a private contractor for the US Defense Department in Afghanistan in 2011. had gone.
Juries saw some of Robertson’s objectionable posts on social media before and after the Capitol riots. In a Facebook post on November 7, 2020, Robertson said “being denied fraud is my hard line.”
“I have spent most of my adult life fighting anti-terrorism. (I am) to be a part of one, and a very effective one,” he wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Alloi told jurors that Robertson was charged for her actions, not her political beliefs. Wagner also said that Robertson should be judged by his actions, not his words.
After the riot the city fired Robertson and Fraker. Rocky is about 25 miles south of Mount Roanoke and has about 5,000 residents.
Robertson has been jailed since Cooper ruled in July that he had violated the terms of his pretrial release with firearms.
More than 770 people have been indicted for riot-related federal crimes. More than 250 of them have confessed to crimes, most of them for misdemeanors.
Robertson’s lawsuit is one of four for Capital Riot defendants so far. Two others had their cases decided by bench trial before the same judge.
US District Judge Trevor McFadden last month convicted New Mexico’s elected official Coy Griffin of illegally entering the restricted Capitol grounds, but acquitted him of disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, McFadden acquitted another New Mexico man, Matthew Martin, of all four charges he faced.