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Capitol rioter pleads guilty after prosecutorial mistake jeopardized case

Additional charges may still await the insurrectionist despite his guilty plea.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A Texas man pleaded guilty on Thursday to assaulting an officer during the Capitol riot after a prosecutorial mistake almost cost the federal government its case.

Lucas Denney’s admission comes after he initially asked the court on March 5 to dismiss the case against him because the government failed to charge him within 30 days as required by the Speedy Trial Act. 

Prosecutors admitted they made a mistake and asked the judge to dismiss the case without prejudice so they could still bring claims of conspiracy and obstruction from the initial complaint that were not included in the indictment. The judge denied the requests, however, during a hearing last Monday because prosecutors showed up with a single-count grand jury indictment.

Then Denney unexpectedly withdrew his motion to dismiss the case and decided to plead guilty on Thursday, admitting that he hit an officer with a plastic pole during the riot. 

But Denney does not have a plea agreement with the government, which means prosecutors can still file additional charges against him in the future. 

During the hearing, it appeared that Denney did not clearly understand that. He briefly went into a breakout room with his attorneys to discuss it.

After returning, he confirmed to the judge that he understood he could face future charges.

Denney’s attorney, William Shipley, noted that there is a circuit split in their favor on whether double jeopardy would bar the government from bringing the charges. 

Prosecutors have said meanwhile they are undecided about such plans.

Denney requested a 41- to 51-month sentence and a fine between $15,000 and $150,000. The government aimed higher, seeking a 57- to 71-month sentence and a fine between $20,000 and $200,000.

Sentencing is set for June 9.

Earlier on Thursday, four men from Missouri and Alabama were sentenced after pleading guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. 

Michael Quick, Stephen Quick and Zachary Martin, all from Missouri, and Kari Kelley, from Alabama, each faced up to six months behind bars but all were spared jail time by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump.

The Quick brothers were both sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $500 restitution, a $1,000 fine and a $10 special assessment. 

They drove from Missouri to Washington for Trump's Stop the Steal rally and entered the Capitol through a broken window. After they turned themselves in to the FBI, Stephen told agents he was ashamed while his brother said he did not realize he was trespassing because he thought police were letting them into the building.

Martin was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $500 in restitution and $10 for a special assessment. He livestreamed himself inside the Capitol, and authorities say various acquaintances turned him in.

Kelley received the same sentence as Martin. As with the Quick brothers, Kelley also got in the building through a broken window. Investigators tracked him down through security footage from inside the Capitol. 

To date, more than 750 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot. 

As of last Thursday, approximately 195 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, 29 have pleaded guilty to felonies, and at least six have been sentenced to prison.

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