Judge delays trial on January 6 charges, though West Virginia man says ready for court

The trial has been delayed for Morgantown resident George Tanios and his longtime friend Julian Khater, who are accused of colluding to use pepper spray against United States Capitol police on January 6, 2021.

That’s because Khater’s lawyers want to focus on continuing talks on a plea deal. Tanios’ lawyers didn’t object to a delay, but the Morgantown man might have a different mindset.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, during a status hearing today, asked Tanios if he understood the delay.

George Tanios

“Yes sir,” Tanios replied, “and I look forward to my day in court.”

Judge Hogan said he was worried about delaying the trial, but agreed to move it from the original June start date to October 5.

Khater’s Lawyers filed a motion March 28 to delay preparations for a trial on June 6. Khater’s attorneys said the motion was made with the consent of other attorneys in the case, including federal prosecutors.

At the status hearing this morning, Judge Hogan wanted to clarify the position of all parties.

Beth Gross, a lawyer for Tanios, did not object to a delay, but said talks of a plea deal for Tanios have not made significant progress so far. She acknowledged that more time could make a difference.

“In terms of resolving the case, we’ve had many negotiations with the government, at this time, none of which have been successful yet,” Gross said.

“I would say maybe more time could help us find a better resolution. At least those are my conversations we’ve had so far, and I think a continuation won’t hurt Mr. Tanios because he’s still out and I think he’s doing fine. in terms of supervision.

Judge Hogan has scheduled another status hearing for 11 a.m. on June 22 to see if the talks have progressed.

Tanios pleaded not guilty on this point.

Tanios is accused of passing the pepper spray to Khater, who directed it at police officers, including Brian Sicknick, who later died. A the medical examiner concluded that Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes.

Tanios and Khater are charged with nine counts, including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Julien Khater

At today’s status hearing, Khater’s lawyers reiterated that their side had made progress on a potential plea deal. Khater’s lawyers said it would be helpful to be able to focus on that possibility, rather than preparing for a trial.

“I hope that continuing the discussions without the lawsuit looming over our heads imminently will succeed, said Chad Seigal, a lawyer for Khater.

“And obviously, if that were to happen, I don’t think I need to tell the court that it would avoid unnecessary expenditure of judicial resources, taxing the jury and obviously it would also avoid the officers and their family members involved in the events. from January 6 to have to relive the events of that day, which I think would be moving.

Federal prosecutors agreed, citing the U.S. Justice Department’s chain of command to be involved in high-profile case steps.

“So it looks like we’re going to be running on the deadline, even though it looks like the trial is in June, it’s going to take some time,” federal prosecutor Anthony Scarpelli said. “So we thought our advocacy-focused resources were a better use of time to see if we could solve this case.”

The crowd that stormed the United States Capitol disrupted the Electoral College’s constitutional obligation to count votes and prompted the evacuation of Representatives, Senators and Vice President Mike Pence. A woman was shot and killed as she tried to go up to the bedrooms, three others died of ‘medical emergencies’ and more than 100 police officers officers were injured.

Among the thousands of protesters in Washington, DC, that day, about 800 entered the Capitol, according to police.

West Virginians charged by the federal government with entering the Capitol that day are former Parkersburg councilman Eric Barber, a former state delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, college senior Court of Gracyn of Hurricane and Jeffery Finley, a Martinsburg resident who would lead West Virginia’s right-wing Proud Boys group.

Finley walked into a to plead guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Documents filed in his file describe planning and interactions with the larger, looser Proud Boys organization.

Courtright served a month in federal prison in Philadelphia and was released earlier this month.

Barber pleaded guilty last December 16 to two federal misdemeanors, and a federal judge has now deferred sentencing for 10 a.m. on June 1.

Evans pleaded guilty earlier this month to a civil disorder charge. A sentencing hearing has been set for June 26 at 12:30 p.m.

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