Court Battles

DOJ dismissing Capitol riot case for first time

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking to dismiss a case against a New York man charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the first time federal prosecutors have moved to drop a case connected to the attack.

Prosecutors filed a motion Tuesday seeking to dismiss the case against Christopher Kelly of New York, who was charged after the FBI said an anonymous tipster sent investigators photos posted on Facebook of Kelly at the Capitol.

Authorities wrote in the filing "the government and defense counsel have discussed the merits of the case, and upon reflection of the facts currently known to the government, the government believes that dismissal without prejudice at this time serves the interests of justice."

Prosecutors didn't say why they dismissed the case. Neither the DOJ nor Edward MacMahon, Kelly's attorney, immediately returned a request for comment from The Hill.

Kelly was one of more than 400 people charged in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when a mob of former President Trump's supporters sought to stop Congress from certifying President Biden's Electoral College victory. Five people died as a result of the riots that day.

In April, Jon Ryan Schaffer, an alleged member of the right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, became the first defendant to plead guilty to charges stemming from the riots.

Kelly was arrested on Jan. 20 on four charges in connection with the riot: obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, unlawful entry to restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct.

According to an FBI affidavit, a confidential source provided screenshots from a Facebook account appearing to belong to Kelly, including a screenshot of a message in which Kelly references that he would be in D.C. on Jan. 6.

Agents were also given a screenshot of a Facebook Messenger chat dated Jan. 6, in which Kelly appears to write "We're in!" This was followed by another user saying "@Christ Kelly stay safe," according to the FBI.

The account also shows Kelly messaging people photos of himself outside the Capitol, according to the affidavit.

Kelly was released from jail pending trial in February. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday.

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