For now, the government has dropped the most serious charges against a Pennsylvania woman accused of barging into the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Jan. 6 and helping to steal a laptop.
Prosecutors asked for the dismissal of the top counts “without prejudice,” meaning they could be refiled at a later time.
A Washington, D.C., jury had convicted Riley June Williams, a 23-year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 21 of six charges, including two felonies: civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding police. But the jurors were deadlocked on whether prosecutors had shown that Williams, who was allegedly seen on video taking the laptop from Pelosi’s office, had indeed aided and abetting the theft of that laptop.
The verdict marked the first time that a jury hadn’t agreed to convict a Jan. 6 defendant on all counts.
“Here, in the interest of party and judicial economy, and recognizing the defendant likely faces a substantial sentence on the six counts of conviction already, the government requests leave to dismiss counts 2 and 4 of the Indictment without prejudice,” the government wrote in its motion. “This decision should allow the parties and court to move forward with defendant’s sentencing as scheduled on February 22, 2023, and to achieve justice for the defendant’s conduct without delay.”
The motion was unopposed. A federal docket entry indicated that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted the request on Monday.
Williams currently faces eight years in prison on the assault charge and five on the civil disorder charge, plus a combined three years for the four misdemeanors.
The obstruction charge had a maximum 20-year prison sentence, while the theft charge had a maximum 10-year penalty.
According to prosecutors, Williams had joined the mob of Donald Trump supporters angry over Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election in breaching the Capitol as Congress was in the process of certifying the Electoral College vote. The forced entry brought the proceedings to a halt and caused lawmakers to either flee the building or shelter in place.
Wiliams was allegedly in the building for around 70 minutes, having entered shortly after the initial breach. She allegedly visited the Crypt, the Rotunda, and Pelosi’s office, and, according to prosecutors, she “directed other rioters, pushed against officers, and took video, audio, and photo recordings of her activities.”
“Dude, put on gloves!” Williams allegedly yelled at a fellow rioter, according to the Justice Department. “Take that f– laptop.”
Williams also allegedly threw a water bottle at police officers and called them traitors.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Williams was allegedly seen on video taking the laptop from Pelosi’s office, and investigators believed she might have tried to sell the device to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. Authorities also believed that Williams had gone on the run after being identified in a Jan. 6 video, but her lawyer insisted she was fleeing an abusive ex-boyfriend.
Although Williams had been out on pretrial release ahead of her trial, the judge ordered her detained pending sentencing.
“She was profane; she was obnoxious, and she was threatening,” Judge Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee, said of Williams after the jury returned its verdict, according to CNN.
“This is a person who was packed and ready to flee once before,” Jackson also reportedly said, noting that Williams’ father had offered her places to hide in the wake of the Capitol attack, CNN reported.
An email sent by Law&Crime to the DOJ inquiring whether prosecutors would re-try Williams on the two charges did not receive a response.
Read the government’s motion here.
[Images via Dauphin County Prison and YouTube screengrab.]
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