The leader of the far-right group “Cowboys for Trump,” charged with entering restricted grounds at the US Capitol and held in solitary confinement after refusing to be tested for COVID-19, will not be released before he stands trial, a US judge ruled Monday.
Couy Griffin, an elected Republican county commissioner in New Mexico, was arrested on January 17 in Washington, DC, where he was taken into custody by the FBI.
Griffin had days earlier pledged to bring guns to the capital on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. He was arrested, however, over his role in the January 6 insurrection aimed at overturning the 2020 election, prosecutors charging him with entering restricted grounds at the US Capitol.
On Monday, prosecutors argued that Griffin is a flight risk and cited concern about his vow to bring arms to DC, as BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman reported. Griffin’s lawyer, David B. Smith, in turn, argued that his client is not a “crazy person” but rather someone who has just made “unfortunate statements” (said Griffin of the US Capitol: “There will be blood running from that building“).
In a court filing, the attorney also maintained that the government had not proved that Griffin poses a “serious” flight risk; he also insisted that Griffin only intended to bring firearms to the capital for personal protection. He has also now taken a coronavirus test, releasing him from 14 days of isolation.
But US Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui sided with the state, ruling that Griffin should remain subject to pretrial detention. His reasoning, per Albuquerque’s The Paper: “He seems competent, but those statements, and the fact that he clearly does not believe in the rule of law and that I as a judge am part of a machine, and [he] is in denial of the fact that he participated in a riot that tried to disrupt the democratic process.”
Monday’s hearing was originally scheduled for last month, but the defendant refused to participate.
If convicted, Griffin faces up to 10 years in prison.
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