Feet on the desk didn’t interfere with Congress, Barnett’s lawyer argued

WASHINGTON – Richard “Bigo” Barnett was a “crazy man from Arkansas who pushed himself into the Capitol and put his feet on the desk,” his attorney said in court Wednesday.

“The government has alleged that the act of putting his feet on the desk is tantamount to obstruction of Congress. It is not,” said Joseph D. McBride, one of Barnett’s lawyers. , on Wednesday during his opening statement at Barnett’s US Capitol hearing.

McBride referred to the joint session of Congress that met on January 6, 2021, to approve the electoral vote to declare that Joe Biden had won the presidential election. The process was interrupted for several hours due to a disturbance in and around the Capitol.

Barnett’s trial began Jan. 9 in federal court in the District of Columbia. On Wednesday afternoon, the presentation of evidence by the government was completed.

Barnett, 62, of Gravette, is charged with eight counts of affray. He is facing felony charges for allegedly entering the Capitol with a deadly weapon – a Hike ‘n Strike Walking Staff, which is a combination of the rod/flashlight/shotgun he bought at the Bass Pro Shop in Rogers the week before the riot. .

Barnett gained worldwide attention when he posed for photos with his foot on the desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Barnett is expected to appear today. McBride told the judge that Barnett would probably take two hours. Two special witnesses are scheduled to testify today.

Everyone has that crazy brother or family member, McBride told the jury in his opening remarks.

“They have a complete disregard for social norms,” ​​McBride said. “So you take your crazy brother and you put him in the hills of western Arkansas. You exchange the culture of Washington, DC, for the culture of rural Arkansas, and you get Bigo Barnett .”

McBride said the evidence will show that “life in Arkansas is very different from life in the big city” and that Barnett – a firefighter and cowboy – “was running around like he’s in Arkansas.”

Testimony resumed Wednesday morning with FBI Special Agent Kimberly Allen on the stand. Three FBI agents from Arkansas testified Tuesday. Allen was still on the stand when U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher R. Cooper retired from court late Tuesday.

Allen is the FBI agent in charge of Barnett’s case.

In court Wednesday morning, he showed off the Hike ‘n Strike stun device, which was the main focus of Barnett’s trial.

Allen loaded the Hike ‘n Strike with batteries, removed the cap near the handle and operated the device for five seconds to show the organizers how it worked.

It made a loud noise and a bright light flashed from the electrical spike on the side of the shaft.

“Let him cover that,” Cooper said after practice.

Investigators have yet to find the Hike ‘n Strike they believe Barnett took into the Capitol. Allen said he bought a similar model, which he showed in court Wednesday. Investigators also did not find Barnett’s cell phone, which he apparently used to record events in and around the Capitol.

Barnett’s attorneys argued that the stun gun could not have been activated while he was in the Capitol. They said the videos showed a red light on the device — indicating it’s on — which could not be detected.

On Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Attorney General Michael Gordon asked Allen, who was still on the stand, to reload the Hike ‘n Strike with batteries and step down. the stage on the deck, next to the jury box.

Gordon did the Hike ‘n Strike as Barnett did in the videos. Allen said he could see the red light if it was pointed straight at him, but if Gordon turned the machine 90 degrees in either direction, Allen said he could no longer see the light. red

As Gordon put the gun away, he activated it for a moment, causing a loud click and a flash of light.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, causing the courtroom to burst into laughter.

During his opening statement, McBride said Barnett’s hand bled while he was at the Capitol because he cut on the spike electrodes that pop out of the ends of the Hike ‘n Strike when the cover.

McBride said Barnett had blood on an envelope in Pelosi’s office, so he took “the bio-recovery” with him and put the quarter on the desk for a reward. Emily Berret, Pelosi’s chief of staff, testified last week that she found the quarter on her desk but threw it in the trash because it was covered in blood. . He also found a letter that said, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was there, Biotch.”

Barnett was held in the Columbia County Jail for nearly four months before being released on his own recognizance.

In court Wednesday, the government made one of Barnett’s calls to jail his significant other, Tammy Newburn. In the call, Barnett told Newburn that he copyrighted the passage he wrote in the letter he left for Pelosi.

“He wanted to copyright the phrase because he didn’t want anyone else to make any money,” Allen said.

One of the charges that Barnett is accused of is theft of property, for taking the envelope from Pelosi’s office. It was given to the MP and the speaker of the House was there to make a reply.

McBride said Barnett needed a cane to walk that day at the Capitol. He was 60 years old at the time and had problems with his back, knees and shoulders.

Allen admitted that in all the footage from the Capitol riots, he never saw Barnett using the Hike ‘n Strike as a crutch. Allen said he had never seen it used “in battle.”

In one video of Barnett confronting a Metropolitan Police officer in the Capitol Rotunda, Barnett has his hand on the assault rifle. Barnett left an American flag on a 10-pound metal pole on a credenza in Pelosi’s office, and she repeatedly asked the police to come get it for her.

They didn’t.

Officer Terrence Craig testified that a fight was brewing and getting Barnett’s flag back was the last thing on his mind, no matter how much he yelled at him. eat

The government released the video from the FBI interview with Barnett on January 8, 2021, in Bentonville. In the video, Barnett said he saved “a little girl’s life” because he was pinned down by a crowd heading to the Capitol. Barnett said he “pulled her off,” and they fell to the ground and trampled her.

Barnett said he got up, and ran down the hall to Pelosi’s office.

Gordon asked if that was true, but Allen said no. He said Pelosi’s office is far from the east door, where Barnett entered, and he was walking when he entered. The video was presented to corroborate his testimony.

Barnett told the FBI that a police officer told him to leave Pelosi’s office and that he said, “Yes, sir.”

That’s not true either, Allen said.

On the video, a police officer says “you have to get out,” and Barnett replies, “You have to get out of the communist that’s what you have to do. You are a person who does not believe in God.”

During cross-examination, McBride Allen asked what Barnett had done to interfere with Craig’s duty, which resulted in the charge of the dehumanization of Barnett.

Allen said that Barnett threatened to “bring a crowd forward” to break the police line.

McBride said Barnett did not punch, kick or activate his stun gun.

“The evidence will show that he did not interfere with officer Craig in any way,” McBride said in his opening statement.

Throughout the trial, the government presented several of Barnett’s Facebook posts about the scheduled robbery stop for Washington on January 6, 2021.

In a response to a Facebook post from December 30, 2020, Barnett wrote: “It’s going to be wall to wall. Avoid the middle of the crowd. After you find your ways and place well, plan a tough escape route. . Be prepared to defend yourself if necessary. Anti-aircraft guns are legal, like pepper spray. Look it up. So “Something else you carry is your business.”

According to the testimony of the Capitol Police, it is not against the rules of the US Capitol, the firearms.

“I think it’s fair to say that a lot of his posts are offensive and tone-deaf,” McBride said Wednesday when Allen was questioned. “He’s like the crazy redhead from Arkansas who’s mooning.”

Also testifying for the defense on Wednesday was Mark Snell, a crowd expert.

Barnett faces the following charges:

• 18:231(a)(3); Personal Injury

• 18:1512(c)(2) and 2; Interference with an Official Proceeding and Aids and Abesses

• 18:1752(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); Entering and Remaining in a Prohibited Building or Land with a Dangerous or Dangerous Weapon

• 18:1752(a)(2) and (b)(1)(A); Disorderly Conduct and Disruption in a Confined Building or Arena with a Dangerous or Dangerous Weapon.

• 40:5104(e)(2)(C); Enter and Stay in certain rooms in the Capitol Building

• 40:5104(e)(2)(D); Behavioral Disorders in a Large House

• 40:5104(e)(2)(G); Signs, Displays, or Pickets in a Large Building

• 18:641; Theft of Government Property

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