East Texas man rejects plea deal in Capitol riot case

Crime & Public Safety

Photo: In a Department of Justice arrest warrant, Ryan Nichols (right) and Alex Harkrider (left) posted this photo saying in part “We aren’t done yet either!”

WASHINGTON (KETK) – An East Texas man who is charged in the January 6 Capitol riot has rejected a plea deal offer from government prosecutors.

Alex Harkrider, a 34-year-old Carthage man, was released on bond back in April until his trial. He is charged along with 30-year-old Ryan Nichols, a Longview resident, of several crimes stemming from the riot ranging from civil disorder to assaulting federal officers.

Harkrider’s D.C.-based attorney Kira West announced in a hearing on Wednesday that Harkrider would not be taking a plea offer. There was no mention of what kind of deal the U.S. attorney’s office had brought to him.

Prosecutors told Judge Thomas Hogan that there was a substantial amount of evidence that they were going through and would be providing to both Harkrider’s and Nichol’s respective attorneys. U.S. Assistant Attorney Danielle Jones announced to Hogan that it could be another 60-90 days to go through all of the data.

Harkrider has been out on bond since April and has been keeping to his pre-trial restrictions. Last week, Hogan agreed with a motion filed by West that would allow him to not wear electronic monitoring around his ankle.

The device did not keep precise GPS location but instead alerted pre-trial officers when Harkrider left his house.

Buck Files, a high-profile defense attorney from East Texas, is representing Nichols and said at the teleconference hearing that the prosecutors “have been a delight to work with.” He remarked that the amount of evidence is highly unusual but expected given the unique circumstances of the Capitol riot case.

“We are way behind through no fault of anyone.”

Buck Files, Defense Attorney for Ryan Nichols

He also said that Nichols was “eager to proceed…to a plea agreement” but that he was still waiting to review the evidence against him. He is still sitting in a federal facility in the D.C. area.

Files told Hogan that there were 32 prisoners in Nichols’ pod, but only two tablets available to them that could review documents and other evidence with their lawyers. Nichols has rarely had the chance in jail to use the tablets.

Files also told the court that he had personally traveled twice to Washington to visit with Nichols since his arrest, totaling about five total hours with him.

The two are charged with nearly a dozen federal crimes between them. They include:

  • Civil Disorder (both)
  • Obstruction of an Official Proceeding (both)
  • Assaulting…Officers Using A Dangerous Weapon (Nichols)
  • Theft of Government Property (Harkrider)
  • Entering a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly Weapon (both)
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Restricted Building with a Deadly Weapon (both)
  • Unlawful Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on Capitol Grounds (both)
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building (both)
  • Act of Physical Violence in the Capitol (Nichols)
  • Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in the Capitol (both)

A 20-page Department of Justice arrest warrant lists out in great detail how the two planned on storming the Capitol for weeks and how they posted several times to social media bragging about the riot.

Two witnesses separately contacted the FBI and agents ran a search of both of their Facebook pages, which included numerous photographs and videos.

In one photo, the two men are standing in front of a shattered window at the Capitol, saying “We ain’t done yet! We just got started!”

In a video obtained by FBI agents, a man that appears to be Nichols yelling into a bullhorn “If you have a weapon, you need to get your weapon!” along with “This is the second revolution right here folks! … This is not a peaceful protest.”

The warrant alleges that Nichols and Harkrider were identified in a separate video forcing their way into the Capitol building. The video shows Nichols allegedly grabbed a large, red aerosol can and sprayed it toward Capitol Police officers.

In another Facebook post, Nichols tagged Harkrider saying they were “feeling pissed off” at the United States Capitol. He wrote: “We’re in. 2 people killed already. We need all the patriots of this country to rally the f*** up and fight for our freedom or it’s gone forever.”

Nichols also fought back against the baseless conspiracy theory that it was members of Antifa that stormed the Capitol and not President Trump supporters. He wrote that “Sure there may have been some ‘Antifa’ in DC, but there wasn’t enough to “Storm the Capitol” themselves.”

In March of last year, Nichols gained attention when begging for sewing machines and materials to make masks at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He appeared on the “Ellen” TV show in 2018, after driving more than 18 hours to North Carolina to help get people to safety. Along the way, he found six dogs locked in cages, trapped by rising floodwaters.

Ellen presented him with a check for $25,000 that would be donated to the Humane Society in his name.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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