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Man who wears eye patch after shooting himself with own gun convicted of rioting at Capitol | American News

The founder of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia has been convicted of seditious conspiracy for his involvement in last year’s attack on the US Capitol.

Stewart Rhodes has hatched a plot to forcibly prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

During an eight-week trial, jurors heard that Rhodes – a former army paratrooper who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun – rallied his supporters to defend Mr. Trump.

Prosecutors showed the jury cryptic messages, recordings and surveillance video where Rhodes spoke of the prospect of a ‘bloody’ civil war, and warned the group’s members that they might have to ‘rise up in insurrection’ to defeat Mr. Biden if Mr. Trump does not act.

Rhodes, who attended Yale Law School but was disbarred as a lawyer, spent thousands on an AR rig rifle, magazines, mounts, sights and more equipment on their way to Washington DC before the riot.

Footage was released in court of oath keepers hiding weapons in a Virginia hotel for a “quick reaction force”, although the weapons were never used.

There was also a file of Rhodes expressing regret for not bringing guns to Washington D.C. the day of the riot and saying he could have hung United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from a lamp post.

On January 6, the day of the riot, oath keepers in battle dress were seen among the crowd, while Rhodes stood outside like a “general watching over his troops on the battlefield”, a said a prosecutor.

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Afterwards, he joined other militia members at a nearby restaurant to celebrate.

On trial alongside Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, were Kelly Meggs, head of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, and three others.

The jury took three days to find Rhodes and Meggs guilty of seditious conspiracy – a Civil War-era charge that has not been used at trial since the 1995 prosecution of Islamist militants who planned to bomb monuments in New York, although three other oath keepers pleaded guilty to the charge.

Rhodes, who was also found guilty of obstructing official process but acquitted of two other conspiracy charges, could be jailed for up to 20 years.

His lawyer Ed Tapley described the verdicts as a “mixed bag”, adding: “We are grateful for the not guilty verdicts received, we are disappointed with the guilty verdicts.

“No evidence has been presented to indicate there was a plan to attack the Capitol.”

Read more:
Storming the Capitol: How Four Hours of Mayhem Unfolded in Washington
U.S. Attorney General Hints at Trump’s Capitol Riot Prosecution

Pro-Trump protesters clash with Capitol police during a rally to challenge the US Congress' certification of the 2020 US presidential election results, at the US Capitol in Washington, US, January 6 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In defending Rhodes, the lawyers tried to prove that his rhetoric was just bluster and that the oath keepers had no plans until January 6 to attack the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers had come to Washington DC solely to provide security for figures such as longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, they said.

Testifying in his own defense, Rhodes said he had no idea his supporters were going to storm the Capitol, adding that those who did were “stupid” and off their mission.

Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in 2009 and recruits current and former U.S. military, law enforcement and other first responders.

In December, four other members of the group will be tried for seditious conspiracy, as will members of another right-wing group, the Proud Boys, including its former president Enrique Tarrio.

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