Federal judge refuses to release man wearing horns and face paint from custody after Capitol riot

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PHOENIX (NewsNation Now) — One of the most visible people arrested after the U.S. Capitol riot will stay in federal custody after a detention hearing on Friday.

Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was photographed wearing horns and face paint appeared via teleconference in federal court on Friday. U.S. District Court Judge Deborah M. Fine ruled that Chansley cannot be released from detention.  

“I have no confidence that he will follow my court orders,” Judge Fine said.

Jacob Chansley appears in federal court on Friday via teleconference. (Courtroom Sketch: Maggie Keanu)

She said if he were released he would be able to garner support, to carry out threats against President-elect Joe Biden and to flee future court proceedings.

Judge Fine said she made much of her decision on a specific line of the court documents:

“Chansley is an active participant in-and has made himself the most prominent symbol of-a violence insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government on January 6, 2021,” the court papers said.

Federal Court Documents

“I start with this and looking at this sentence very closely,” Fine said. “It raises questions that our nation is dealing with.”

The government argued that he posed a flight risk and posed a danger to the community.

“We think his views show someone who is not connected to reality,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Allison.

Allison also shared that he wrote a letter the federal government described as threatening and left it on Vice President Mike Pence’s desk in the Senate chamber saying “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

He told the FBI it wasn’t a threat, but the federal government argued given the actions of the Capitol riot, it was a threat.

Prosecutors had the judge strike lines from their submitted documents which stated: “Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government.”

The government did submit plenty of witness testimony and many photos, including the much-circulated image of Chansley at the podium of Pence.

“That’s intent, in my view, that Mr. Chansley will repeat this behavior,” Judge Fine said making clear that the events at the Capitol were not a protest.

“This is a riot. This is an insurrection,” she said.

U.S. District Court Judge Deborah M. Fine (Courtroom Sketch: Maggie Keanu)

Federal public defender Gerald Williams argued that his client was not a flight risk, had no previous criminal history, could have a mental health evaluation and GPS monitoring.

Chansley’s public defender also argued that given the media attention, people across the county would be able to recognize him due to the coverage.

“Without such face paint and costume, he is not widely known,” said Judge Fine. “He would be able to flee.”

She said under oath, she couldn’t pick him out in a lineup without the horns and coyote outfit and said that the costume added anonymity.

“It’s this odd irony. He has made himself notorious, but has made himself anonymous,” Judge Fine said calling him a “symbol” of the situation.

He is facing two felony charges including: obstructing the conduct of a law enforcement officer and obstructing an official proceeding. He was also facing several misdemeanors.

At the beginning of the hearing, which NewsNation listened to via telephone, someone in the courtroom could be heard saying they needed more police assistance to deal with the crowd size due to pandemic restrictions.

While the hearing was open via telephone to help with COVID-19 restrictions, recording was not allowed.

The hearing lasted more than an hour and a half.

Chansley audibly interrupted Judge Fine during her findings. She asked him to stop and said he and his defense attorney can appeal to a higher court.

He tried again to interrupt at the end of the hearing.

“I am going to respect your right to remain silent,” Judge Fine said after talking with Williams.

Chansley will be released to U.S. Marshal custody to be moved to the District of Columbia for his trial.

Williams left the court without comment and so did his mother, NewsNation correspondent Nancy Loo reported.

St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins told NewsNation affiliate KTVI that he represents Chansley and has asked President Trump to pardon him.

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