The defendant, Lucas Denney, was arrested in December and left in jail awaiting a hearing because of what prosecutors called “unintentional” errors — a clear violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The federal judge handling the case previously blasted the “multiple screwups” by prosecutors.
At a court hearing, Denney admitted to one count of assaulting police.
Last week, Denney’s lawyers asked the judge to throw out the case, arguing that prosecutors had missed the deadline to secure an indictment. Two days later, prosecutors went to a grand jury and indicted Denney on the one count of assaulting police, which he pleaded guilty to on Thursday.
His defense lawyer, William Shipley, said at a Monday hearing that by pleading guilty to the rushed indictment with just one criminal charge, Denney could avoid potentially harsher charges or a longer sentence.
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“They ran to the grand jury last Monday before a court hearing to get to this place today,” Shipley said, calling the move a “bad faith intention to short circuit” the judge.
Denney now faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars when he is sentenced in June, though most defendants get much less than the statutory maximum.
During the plea hearing Thursday, prosecutors said they have not yet decided if they would charge Denney again in the future.
According to prosecutors, Denney and fellow militia member Donald Hazard attempted to recruit other members to their small militia, the “Patriot Boys of North Texas,” before traveling to DC together.
Denney told Hazard he was in touch with the Proud Boys who they would join up with and that he would pick up a helmet for Hazard and pepper spray, according to court documents.
During the attack on the Capitol, Denney attempted to pull down barriers, tried to hit police with a long pole and was part of a mob who pushed against the line of police guarding the Lower West Terrace tunnel to the Capitol, prosecutors allege.
According to the Justice Department, Hazard grappled with police during the riot and one officer fell down a set of stairs with Hazard and “was knocked unconscious and sustained injuries to his head, foot, and arm.”
Hazard was charged in December and hasn’t yet entered a plea. His next hearing is slated for April 5.
In the wake of the attack, Denney told Hazard — who had been sending messages and posting comments venerating the riot — to “keep [quiet] this week,” according to court documents.
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“Remember don’t talk about certain things to anyone. You know what I mean,” Denney allegedly wrote to Hazard.