DOJ appeals for the release of rioter who stormed Capitol while being held on bail for attempted murder

Matthew Beddingfield was accused of sending racist messages and glorifying Hitler. He previously shot a Hispanic teenager at Walmart's parking lot.

DOJ appeals for the release of rioter who stormed Capitol while being held on bail for attempted murder

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department appeals the pretrial release for an accused Jan. 6 rioter, who was on bail on a charge of attempted murder after he stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Matthew Jason Beddingfield is a North Carolina 20-year old who was first identified by online detectives. He was named in a March 20, 2021 HuffPost article. Beddingfield killed a Hispanic teenager in a Walmart parking lot in December 2019. This was just a year after he had traveled to D.C. to support former President Donald Trump's efforts in overturning the 2020 election results.

Beddingfield pleaded guilty to felonious assault using a deadly weapon in connection to the August 2021 shooting. He was sentenced on probation.

Federal prosecutors claim that Beddingfield sent racist messages online while he was on pretrial release for the shooting. They also claimed that messages glorified Adolf Hitler. According to federal prosecutors, Beddingfield was ordered "not to access any social media" under his pretrial release.

Federally Beddingfield was indicted for assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon, resisting or impeding specific officers, entering and remaining on restricted grounds or buildings with a deadly weapon and other misdemeanors.

Prosecutors claim that Beddingfield appears to have been outside the Capitol giving a Nazi salute, throwing a pole at police and striking one with it. Video outside the Capitol appears to show Beddingfield "attacking police officers with his flag," according to an FBI statement. After being irritated by a chemical, he eventually left the Capitol.

U.S. Magistrate Zia Faruqui placed Beddingfield in home detention at the residence of his grandfather on Tuesday afternoon. Beddingfield was also told to stay away from any victims or witnesses. Faruqui said that Beddingfield could also have a "nonsmart phone" which was not able to connect to the internet.

To give the Justice Department the opportunity to appeal, the federal magistrate judge stopped his release order. On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a file requesting Faruqui's order for Beddingfield to be released. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols placed a hold on Beddingfield’s release and scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, March 16, at 2:00 ET.

The Justice Department discovered additional racist and threatening messages from Beddingfield and suggested that his grandfather would make a poor custodian.

"It is not a wise course of action to release a young man with a violent criminal history and an affinity for firearms, violence, trolling and inciting others, and violating the trust of the courts into the sole care and custody of a seventy-four-year-old man who lives alone without the internet or a cellphone in rural North Carolina," the filing stated.

Over the course of Beddingfield's two hearings, Faruqui wrestled with Beddingfield's release. It is undisputed that Beddingfield attacked the Capitol. His federal public defender did not even try to argue that point, considering the overwhelming evidence against Beddingfield. Faruqui however noted that Beddingfield did not appear to engage in violence like other Jan.6 defendants who were held until trial.

In connection with Jan. 6, attack, FBI and Justice Department are currently prosecuting over 750 people. However, that's only a fraction of total people who illegally entered the U.S. Capitol, or were charged with crimes outside of the building .

Faruqui said that the delay in bringing Beddingfield to trial, which was made public more than 10 years before his arrest, played into Faruqui’s decision.

Faruqui stated that if the case was brought before him on January 7, 2021, it would be very different. Faruqui stated that if the government had indicted Beddingfield early 2021, he would not hesitate to hold him.

An interview with NPR aired Thursday. Attorney General Merrick Galrland called the Jan. 6, probe "the most pressing investigation in the Justice Department's history" and stated that federal investigators were working "every day, 24-7" in order to bring to justice those who took part in the Capitol siege.

Garland explained to NPR that he starts with cases with overt actions, and then builds from there. "And that is an ongoing process until we hold all those responsible for criminal acts in relation to January 6."

Faruqui, who was present at Beddingfield's detention hearing Tuesday, debated whether to release Beddingfield until trial. Faruqui claimed that his job as a magistrate Judge was difficult because he had to attempt to predict the future. Faruqui tried to determine if Beddingfield was aware of the stakes and the sacrifice his grandfather made for him.

Faruqui said to Beddingfield, "I'm trying decide if I should stick my neck out for you." Faruqui asked Beddingfield, "What was your thinking Judge Faruqui?" Faruqui stated that people would be curious if Beddingfield violates his pretrial release conditions. "How stupid could you be?"

Faruqui stated that he believed that Beddingfield would take the moment in its seriousness and choose a different path in his life.

Faruqui stated, "I hope we can off-ramp his."


 

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