WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday found a Confederate flag-waving father and adult son who violated the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, guilty of obstructing lawmakers as they gathered to certify the president’s election victory Joe Biden in 2020.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden found Kevin Seefried, 52, and Hunter Seefried, 24, guilty of the charge of obstructing a crime, as well as trespassing and related misdemeanors. His verdict came after a two-day trial in which US prosecutors and law enforcement witnesses alleged the men crossed police lines and were among the first 15 rioters to burst into the building. of the Capitol.
The group notably chased US Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman towards the Senate chamber, with Kevin Seefried shouting, “Where are the members? Where do they count the votes? »
The judge found Hunter Seefried not guilty of destroying federal property worth less than $1,000 for removing shards of glass and climbing through a window smashed by the first group of rioters.
On the most serious charge, which carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years, McFadden – ruling at a trial after both men waived their right to a jury – concluded that the Seefrieds had “the intent required” to “wrongfully” obstruct lawmakers when they broke into the building, chased the police and forced the lawmakers to evacuate.
“As a first issue of wrongfulness, things like breaking into a Capitol window, threatening police, and joining a mob chasing an officer through the Capitol are so patently untrue that they require little further explanation. “said McFadden, a 2017 Trump nominee.
“I find that defendant Kevin Seefried did, in fact, obstruct certification by his actions,” McFadden said.
McFadden said that while there is “overwhelming video evidence” that events unfolded as prosecutors claimed, that Hunter Seefried intended to damage property or acted as aggressively as his father was “a closer call”.
Although McFadden acquitted the young Seefried in connection with the window damage, he said the 24-year-old “knew what he was doing”.
“He joined a crowd in the Capitol who repeatedly shouted, ‘Where are you hiding? Where are the members ? Where are they counting the votes,” McFadden said. “It’s not definitive evidence, but his decision to continue with the crowd suggests his intent.”
McFadden also cited a statement Hunter Seefried gave to the FBI, in which he claimed to have told police, “What happens in this room, in this building affects the way I live.
Goodman – whose actions inside the building that day were captured on video that went viral – testified in court that Kevin Seefried was the first intruder he encountered when breaching the doors of the Senate wing on the first floor of the building.
Goodman said the elder Seefried hit him with the end of the mast and shouted for wanting to know the location of the lawmakers. Kevin Seefried told an FBI agent interviewed that he confronted an officer matching Goodman’s description, saying, “You can shoot me, man, but we’re going in,” according to evidence presented by prosecutors.
Video taken from the crowd shows Kevin Seefried was quickly joined by other angry rioters who chased Goodman down the stairs. The officer led them out of a hallway that leads to a Senate entrance used by Republicans, staffers and the ceremonial offices of then-Vice President Mike Pence. The group instead followed him to the hallway of the Ohio clock on the mosaic floor above. Goodman testified that the hallway leads to the main entrance of the Senate, where he knew officers were located to provide backup.
Prosecutors Brittany Reed and Benet Kearney argued that the Seefrieds were among the first group of rioters who entered “with the intention of reaching members of Congress.” The group included two highly visible figures accused of leading the charge: Douglas Jensen, who wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with an eagle and the logo of extremist QAnon ideology, and self-styled QAnon shaman Jacob Chansley, who wore a lance. and a megaphone on the floor of the Senate and wore red-white-blue face paint and a fur headdress with horns. Jensen will be tried in September; Chansley pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors released a video of Hunter Seefried’s interview with the FBI, in which he said he wanted to support Trump and “stop the theft.”
A similar video showed Kevin Seefried saying he came to Washington to defend Trump and admitting to telling a police officer in the building, “This affects us all.” Prosecutors argued that this comment showed his intention to stop the work of lawmakers.
FBI Special Agent Joseph Lear said investigators did not review Kevin Seefried’s social media communications because he deleted them before he and his son surrendered on January 12, 2021.
Nichols sentenced the father and son on September 16 and 23, respectively.