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Judge blocks release to house arrest of man who invaded Pelosi’s office

Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case; he faces up to 11.5 months in prison if convicted

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump, sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump, sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during last week’s riot at the US Capitol.

Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case, Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Friday night, staying a decision by another judge to confine Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial.

Howell’s ruling came hours after US Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor track his location. Wiedemann also prohibited Barnett from using the internet or having contact with anyone else who participated in the Jan. 6 violence.

Barnett, 60, was among supporters of US President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol as lawmakers assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Five people died during the violent insurrection, including a Capitol police officer. During a nearly five-hour hearing Friday via video conference, federal prosecutors had argued that Barnett should remain in custody.

This undated photo provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office shows Arkansas resident Richard Barnett, who was taken into custody Jan. 8, 2021, and is being held in the county jail after he was charged by federal prosecutors with three counts for storming the US Capitol Washington. (Washington County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“If (Barnett) will travel across the country and engage in this level of criminal behavior because he believes that he is right and it is the Electoral College that is wrong, what would deter him?” Assistant US Attorney Kim Harris said.

Barnett is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area with a lethal weapon— a stun gun. Barnett is also charged with disorderly conduct and theft of public property. He faces up to 11 1/2 months in prison if convicted.

“I think your honor can shape a release order that provides a sufficient array of conditions that will allow my client to be released, that will allow my client to effectively defend himself and… will allow him to build enough of a ‘fence’ around him that if he stumbles, it will be brought to your honor’s attention almost immediately,” Anthony Siano, Barnett’s attorney, told the judge during the hearing.

He surrendered voluntarily Jan. 8 to FBI agents at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has remained in the Washington County jail since then.

During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors showed pictures of Barnett sitting at a desk in Pelosi’s office and Capitol security video of him inside the building. They also showed footage of him bragging on a bullhorn to a crowd outside the Capitol about taking an envelope from the speaker’s office. Prosecutors also cited concerns that Barnett had not turned over the stun gun or the cell phone he took with him to Washington.

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