A federal judge in Washington has rejected a request to have prominent U.S. Capitol rioter Jacob A. Chansley released to the St. Louis area before his sentencing on a federal felony charge.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s order was made public Friday.
Chansley was required to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that he was not a flight risk or danger to the community, and Lamberth said he failed. Although Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, had arranged for a place for Chansley to stay, with mental health treatment, Watkins failed to show how anyone would prevent Chansley from fleeing the area. Watkins’ plan also does not mitigate the possibility that Chansley’s supporters would provide him money to flee, the judge said.
Chansley, also known as the “QAnon Shaman,” was shirtless at the election protests and wearing a horned headdress and face paint and appeared in a series of photos and videos that day. He was already a well-known figure at President Donald Trump’s rallies and in the bizarre and discredited QAnon conspiracy theory community.
Lamberth has called Chansley a QAnon “mascot.” Prosecutors say by virtue of his association with fellow conspirators, Chansley could raise a large amount of money to travel.
Watkins has said that Chansley, 34, has repudiated the QAnon conspiracy.
It was Chansley’s third failed bid for freedom. He pleaded guilty Sept. 3 to a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding, admitting being among the first 30 rioters to push past police lines and enter the building. Chansley used a bullhorn to “rile up the crowd and demand that lawmakers be brought out,” his plea says, before entering the Senate gallery and and then taking a seat recently occupied by then-Vice President Mike Pence. Chansley told a Capitol police officer that Pence was a “traitor” and wrote a note saying, “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.” Chansley also refused repeated requests by officers to leave.
On Friday, Watkins called it “a sad day for Jake,” noting that his grandfather died Thursday. Watkins has said Chansley’s grandfather was his sole male role model and cited the man’s imminent death in his motion seeking release from jail.
In his order, Lamberth rejected Watkins’ concerns that the declining health of Chansley’s grandfather could trigger psychological problems.
Watkins said the prison system as well as the court system, prosecutors and defense lawyers are ill-equipped to deal with the mentally ill.
At his Nov. 17 sentencing, prosecutors estimate that Chansley will face 41-51 months in prison under sentencing guidelines. Watkins will argue for probation, in part by citing Chansley’s mental health issues. He has also said that Chansley, who is from Arizona, has cooperated extensively with investigators.