Kansas City Proud Boys Capitol riots case delayed again


William “Billy” Chrestman of Olathe (left to right), Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs, Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner and Christopher Kuehne of Olathe were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on conspiracy charges and other offenses.

Kansas City Star

After spending nearly a year in prison awaiting trial for riot conspiracy on Capitol Hill, Olathe Proud Boy William Chrestman will have to wait even longer.

A federal judge on Wednesday – the eve of the first anniversary of the deadly Jan.6 insurgency – approved the government’s request for a two-month extension in the case involving Chrestman, three other Kansas City-area Proud Boys and two brothers and sisters from Arizona. The six men were indicted last February for allegedly conspiring to rape the Capitol.

In a videoconference status hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, prosecutor Christopher Veatch said the prorogation was necessary because the government was still turning the discovery over to the defense. Veatch also said that some defendants have recently hired new lawyers who are getting up to speed on the cases and prosecutors are helping them get the discovery of the previous lawyer.

None of the defendants’ lawyers objected to the scheduling of the next hearing on March 2.

“I think we’re all in the same boat in the sense that the discovery seems to continue to filter through,” Chrestman’s attorney Michael Cronkright told US District Judge Timothy Kelly. “Unfortunately, that puts me in a position where it would be difficult to object to a delay, but it seems most of these cases are extremely delayed.”

Kelly noted that in addition to the discovery issues, there had been “a flurry of rulings” issued at the end of the year by several judges dealing with the Capitol riot cases, including himself. The decisions, Kelly said, could impact the decisions of some defendants on how to proceed with their defense.

Those charged in the Proud Boys conspiracy case with Chrestman were Christopher Kuehne of Olathe, Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs, Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner and Cory and Felicia Konold.

Prosecutors allege Chrestman was a key player in the Capitol invasion. The unemployed union sheet metal worker was also accused of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer and carry a wooden ax handle while in the Capitol building and on the grounds. . The others were released on personal bail, but Chrestman has been in detention since his arrest on February 11.

The six were also named last month in a federal lawsuit filed by DC Attorney General Karl Racine, who accuses Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, their leaders and members of “conspiring to terrorize the district by planning, promoting and participating in the January 6 violence. 2021, attack on the United States Capitol.

The lawsuit, which aims to recover the costs of the insurgency, says that for several weeks the groups worked together “to plot, publicize, recruit and finance their planned attack.” The result of this planning, according to the trial, was “a coordinated act of national terrorism”.

The Proud Boys have been at the forefront of the federal insurgency investigation. Authorities arrested more than three dozen members or associates of the far-right group across the country, including several in senior positions, on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to conspiracy to conspiracy. assault on a federal officer.

Prosecutors have now charged more than 700 people in connection with the riot. So far, about a quarter of the defendants have pleaded guilty, the majority of misdemeanors, and about 70 have been convicted.

While most of the defendants have been released pending trial, some, including Chrestman, are being held without bail. In July, Kelly rejected Chrestman’s request to be released pending trial, upholding a previous judge’s ruling that he was a danger to the community.

“Sir. Chrestman was a lot more – a lot, a lot more – than someone who just encouraged violence or walked into the Capitol after others led the way,” Kelly said.

In November, Chrestman replaced his defense attorney with Ed Martin, a former Missouri GOP president who was subpoenaed last month by the House committee investigating the Capitol Riot. Martin was the leader of the Missouri Republican Party between 2013 and 2015.

According to court records, Chrestman wanted to replace his former lawyer with Cronkright, a Michigan lawyer. But because Cronkright doesn’t practice law in Washington, DC, Martin, a member of the DC Bar, stepped in as Cronkright’s sponsor lawyer. The two are now listed as Chrestman’s primary advocates. Martin did not appear at Wednesday’s hearing.

Martin and Cronkright also signed in November to represent Tennessee Capitol Riot advocate Joseph Padilla, who has been charged with 12 counts, including obstructing law enforcement during civil unrest. ; assault, resist or hinder officers with a dangerous weapon; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds.

Martin was among six people subpoenaed last month who the House panel said were involved in organizing and planning rallies to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. The committee says that Martin was a leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement.

The Konold siblings also recently replaced their attorney, Albert Watkins, of St. Louis. The outspoken lawyer has been involved in a number of high profile cases. Among his recent clients was Jacob Chansley, also known as “QAnon Shaman,” who was sentenced in November to 41 months for his role in the Capitol Riot.

The Konolds’ new attorney Nicholas D. Smith also represents Ethan Nordean, a Washington state Proud Boy leader who federal prosecutors say helped plan the group’s tactical strategy on Jan.6.

This story was originally published January 5, 2022 12:57 pm.

Kansas City Star Stories

Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the Investigative Team, specializing in surveillance journalism. For three decades, the Kansas native has covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sexual abuse. His stories about Kansas secrecy and religion have gained nationwide recognition.

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