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Jurors fight over at least one charge in Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial


WASHINGTON — Jurors deliberating on the fate of five Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to be grappling with charges against at least some of the defendants.

The jury sent a memo to U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly on Tuesday morning seeking further instructions, asking what to do if they don’t agree on all charges. “We have not been given instructions on what to do if the jury does not reach unanimity on a charge. How should we proceed in this scenario?” the memo said, in part.

The jury began deliberating on Wednesday and did not deliberate on Friday morning, meaning it spent roughly the equivalent of three full days reviewing the case before sending the memo.

Kelly eventually sent a note back to the jury, telling them they were allowed to return a partial verdict and saying to send him a note if they ever got into a situation where they were deadlocked on a charge.

Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl each face nine counts, including the rare seditious conspiracy charge under a Civil War-era law. Pezzola — who was caught on video smashing a window with a Capitol Police shield during the breach, and who admitted his behavior on the stand — faces an additional charge for the stolen police shield.

The biggest challenge prosecutors faced during the trial was convincing a jury that Tarrio, the former president of the Proud Boys, was part of the conspiracy, given that he spent Jan. 6 at a Baltimore hotel. after being banned from Washington, DC, the day before.

Tarrio, in cryptic messages revealed during the trial, admitted to receiving a message from someone who wanted to “storm the Capitol” but did not directly approve of that plan, and prosecutors appeared to admit that much of what happened on January 6 happened spontaneously. What they were able to show was that Tarrio said he wanted a “show” on January 6 and celebrated the attack on the Capitol after it happened, giving the Proud Boys credit for the violation.

Several other Proud Boys pleaded guilty for their actions on January 6, including a member who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

The trial lasted about five months; jury selection began in December 2022 and the jury heard opening arguments in early January.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.