Court Battles

Colorado man accused in Capitol riot has trial delayed after DC Jail goes into COVID-19 lockdown

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One of the Jan. 6 trials at the U.S. Federal District court for Washington, D.C., has been postponed after the judge was told the accused would be appearing via phone due to COVID-19 quarantine measures in place at the D.C. Jail, WUSA9 reported. 

Colorado resident, Robert Gieswein, who is charged with multiple felonies for allegedly assaulting Capitol Police with pepper spray and a baseball bat, turned himself in to authorities last year.

The federal public defender assigned to Gieswein’s case, Ann Rigby, told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan during a planned motion hearing on Wednesday that she believed the unit where Gieswein is held is under COVID-19 lockdown since Christmas Eve, the report added.

She added that residents at the facility would have to remain under quarantine for at least another two weeks and that Gieswein’s scheduled Feb. 1 trial date was no longer viable.

The judge reset jury selection in the case for April 28 and refused Rigby’s request for his release due the outbreak, WUSA9 said. 

Rigby did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Cases at the D.C. jail have been skyrocketing since December as the city grapples with record-breaking COVID-19 case number due to the on-going winter surge from the omicron variant. 

The D.C. Department of Corrections told local news website DCist.com in December, that, “of the 38 units at its Central Detention Facility and adjacent Correctional Treatment Facility, 13 units are currently quarantined because of residents’ potential exposure to the virus. An additional three units are on isolation, due to people who have tested positive for COVID-19.”

Around 60 percent of residents of the jail remain in quarantine because of potential exposure to the virus, according to D.C. Health, WAMU reported.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Corrections for comment.

All jury trials have been suspended until Jan. 24 due to the surging cases in the district, according to an official court order.

Gieswein was identified by the FBI from videos and images from the Capitol.

The video obtained by the FBI from the Jan. 6, 2021 riot shows Gieswein at the Capitol, spraying a police officer with an unknown substance, while the officer was trying to keep the crowd from pushing down barricades, according to the affidavit.

He also stirred others to break a window and then climbed through the window into the Capitol, the affidavit added.

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