Court Battles

Judge refuses ‘QAnon Shaman’s’ request for temporary prison release

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A federal judge this week denied a request from the Capitol riot defendant known as the “QAnon Shaman” to be temporarily released from custody to visit his sick grandfather before he died Thursday. 

Albert Watkins, the attorney for 34-year-old Jacob Chansley, said in a press release Friday that he had first filed a motion in July for his client to be “released after seven months of solitary confinement to see his ailing maternal grandfather,” who Watkins referred to as “the only adult male constant in Mr. Chansley’s life,” for “one last time before he died.” 

“The request came on the heels of a Court ordered psychological evaluation report being released which diagnosed Mr. Chansley with significant and long standing mental health frailties,” the attorney added. 

During an extended pre-trial detention, Chansley, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to a single felony charge in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, was diagnosed with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. 

However, federal Judge Royce Lamberth in a nine-page order dated Thursday and filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the legal standard for releasing a defendant after a guilty plea is higher than release during pre-trial detention. 

Lamberth specifically cited Chansley’s argument in his request for pre-sentence release that “it is important for his continued mental competency that he avoids certain psychological ‘triggers.’”

“He mentions his desire to visit his grandfather, whose ill health he considers a triggering event,” the judge added. 

Lamberth also noted that Chansley was not able to effectively demonstrate that he would not pose a flight risk if temporarily released. 

Watkins revealed in his press release that Chansley’s grandfather died Thursday. 

“With respect for all involved, it is a sad day in our nation when we are all compelled to admit that our Department of Justice, our Courts, our Bureau of Prisons and our defense attorneys are neither equipped nor armed to identify, treat or appropriately handle those in our nation with mental health disabilities and vulnerabilities,” Watkins added in a statement. 

“With great sadness and regret, there was simply nothing more I could do to permit a gentle, smart and kind young man the opportunity to spend a few minutes at the side of the man who raised him to say ‘good-bye’ one last time,” the attorney said. 

Chansley, who was photographed during the Jan. 6 riot shirtless and wearing face paint and a hat with horns, as part of his deal with prosecutors earlier this month pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, while the other five charges he had faced were dismissed. 

Tags Capitol riot Capitol riot charges guilty plea jacob chansley QAnon shaman U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
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