WASHINGTON – Richard “Bigo” Barnett is “a wacko from Arkansas who was pushed into the Capitol and put his feet up on a desk,” his lawyer said in court Wednesday.
“The government alleges that the act of putting your feet up on a desk was tantamount to disrupting Congress. It was not,” Joseph D. McBride, one of Barnett’s attorneys, said Wednesday during his opening statement in the riot trial. at the US Capitol in Barnett.
McBride was referring to the joint session of Congress that met on January 6, 2021 to certify the electoral vote indicating that Joe Biden had won the presidential election. The proceedings were interrupted for several hours by a riot in and around the Capitol.
Barnett’s trial began on January 9 in federal court in the District of Columbia. The government finished presenting its witnesses on Wednesday afternoon.
Barnett, 62, of Gravette, faces eight charges related to the riot. He faces enhanced charges alleging that he entered the Capitol with a dangerous weapon: a Hike ‘n Strike walking stick, which is a combination baton, flashlight and stun gun that he bought at a Bass Pro Shop in Rogers a week before the riot. . .
Barnett drew worldwide attention after posing for photos with her foot up on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Barnett is expected to take the stand today. McBride told the judge that Barnett’s testimony will likely take two hours. Two character witnesses are also scheduled to testify today.
Everyone has that crazy uncle or family member, McBride told the jury during his opening statement.
“They have a complete disregard for social norms,” McBride said. “Now you take your crazy uncle and drop him in the hills of western Arkansas. You trade the cultural norms of Washington, DC, for the cultural norms of rural Arkansas, and you get Bigo Barnett.”
McBride said the evidence will show that “life in Arkansas is completely different from life in the big city” and that Barnett, a former firefighter and bull rider, “was racing like he was in Arkansas.”
Testimony resumed Wednesday morning with FBI Special Agent Kimberly Allen on the stand. Three Arkansas FBI agents had testified Tuesday. Allen was still on the stand when US District Judge Christopher R. Cooper stepped into recess late Tuesday.
Allen is the FBI agent in charge of Barnett’s case.
In court on Wednesday morning, he demonstrated the Hike ‘n Strike stun device, which has been a focal point in the Barnett trial.
Allen loaded the Hike ‘n Strike with batteries, removed the cap near the handle, and activated the device for five seconds to show the jury how it worked.
It made a loud click and bright light shone from the tip electrodes at the end near the handle.
“Tell him to put the lid on that thing,” Cooper said after the demonstration.
Investigators have not recovered the Hike ‘n Strike that they believe Barnett brought to the Capitol. Allen said he bought an identical model, which he demonstrated in court on Wednesday. Investigators also have not recovered Barnett’s cellphone, which he was apparently using to film events in and around the Capitol.
Barnett’s attorneys argued that the stun gun was not operational while he was on Capitol Hill. They cited videos in which no red light could be seen on the device, indicating that it was turned on.
On Wednesday afternoon, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Gordon asked Allen, who was still on the stand, to recharge the Hike ‘n Strike’s batteries and come down from the stand to floor level, next to the jury box.
Gordon held the Hike ‘n Strike as Barnett had done in the videos. Allen said that he could see the red light if he pointed it directly at it, but if Gordon turned the device 90 degrees in either direction, Allen said that he could no longer see the red light.
As Gordon put the stun gun away, he activated it briefly, causing a loud crack and a flash of light.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, causing a quick burst of laughter from the courtroom.
During his opening statement, McBride said Barnett’s hand was bleeding while on Capitol Hill because it was cut on the tip electrodes that protrude from the end of the Hike ‘n Strike’s handle when uncovered.
McBride said Barnett bled on an envelope in Pelosi’s office, so he took “the biohazard” with him and left a quarter on the desk as compensation. Emily Berrett, then chief of operations for Pelosi’s office, testified last week that she found the coin on her desk but she threw it in the trash because it was covered in blood. She also found a note that said, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here, Biotch.”
Barnett was incarcerated in the District of Columbia jail for nearly four months before being released on his own recognizance.
In court on Wednesday, the government reproduced one of Barnett’s jail calls to his partner, Tammy Newburn. In the call, Barnett tells Newburn to copyright the phrase she wrote in the note she left for Pelosi.
“I wanted to copyright the phrase because I didn’t want anyone else to make money off of it,” Allen said.
One of the charges against Barnett is property theft for taking the envelope from Pelosi’s office. It was addressed to a congressman and had as sender the president of the Chamber.
McBride said Barnett needed a cane to walk on Capitol Hill that day. He was 60 years old at the time with back, knee and shoulder problems.
Allen testified that in all of the videos of the riot at the Capitol, he never saw Barnett use the Hike ‘n Strike as a cane. Allen said that he never saw him use it “in battle”.
In video of Barnett confronting a Metropolitan Police officer in the Capitol Rotunda, Barnett has his hand on the stun gun. Barnett had left an American flag on a 10-pound steel pole on a sideboard in Pelosi’s office, repeatedly asking cops to come get it.
Officer Terrence Craig testified that a riot was in progress and that retrieving Barnett’s flag was the last thing on his mind, no matter how much he yelled about it.
The government released video of the FBI interview with Barnett on January 8, 2021 in Bentonville. In the video, Barnett said she saved a “girl’s life” because she was pinned down by the crowd entering the Capitol. Barnett said she “dropped her,” and they fell to the ground and were trampled.
Barnett said she got up and ran down the hall to Pelosi’s office.
Gordon asked if those things were true and Allen said no. He said Pelosi’s office was a fair distance from the east door, where Barnett entered, and he walked once he entered. Video was submitted to corroborate his testimony.
Barnett told the FBI that a police officer ordered him out of Pelosi’s office and he said, “Yes, sir.”
That wasn’t true either, Allen said.
According to the video, a police officer said “you’ve got to get out,” and Barnett responded, “You’ve got to get out of communism is what you have to do. You’re an atheist.”
During questioning, McBride asked Allen what Barnett did to stop Craig from doing his duty, resulting in a civil disorder charge against Barnett.
Allen testified that Barnett was threatening to “draw a crowd” to break through the police line.
McBride noted that Barnett did not punch, kick, or activate his stun gun.
“The evidence will show that he did not impede Officer Craig in any way,” McBride said during his opening statement.
Throughout the trial, the government featured several of Barnett’s Facebook posts about a Stop the Steal rally planned for Washington on January 6, 2021.
In response to a December 30, 2020 Facebook post, Barnett wrote: “It’s going to be wall to wall. Avoid the middle of the crowd. Once you’re well oriented and in a good location, plan at least one route exhaust exhaust”. . Be prepared to defend yourself if necessary. Stun guns are legal, as is pepper spray. Search it. Anything else you carry is your business.”
According to the testimony of a Capitol Police officer, stun guns are illegal in the United States Capitol buildings.
“I think it’s fair to say that a lot of his posts were booing and yelling,” McBride said Wednesday while questioning Allen. “He’s like the crazy redneck from Arkansas who’s barking at the moon.”
Also testifying for the defense on Wednesday was Mark Snell, a crowd expert.
Barnett faces the following charges:
• 18:231(a)(3); civil disorder
• 18:1512(c)(2) and 2; Obstruction of Official Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting
• 18:1752(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon
• 18:1752(a)(2) and (b)(1)(A); Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a building or restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
• 40:5104(e)(2)(C); Enter and stay in certain rooms of the Capitol building
• 40:5104(e)(2)(D); Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
• 40:5104(e)(2)(G); Parades, demonstrations, or pickets at a Capitol building
• 18:641; Theft of government property