“I have no reason to believe that Mr Munchel is part of an organized collective action against the government,” Frensley said. “The court considers that … Mr. Munchel does not represent an obvious and clear danger for the safety of this community.”
Frensley ordered Munchel to place him under house arrest with location surveillance as he awaits trial on charges of conspiracy and civil unrest, as well as torts of illegally entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors have said they plan to appeal the release order to a Washington, DC judge, as they do in at least three other riot-related cases. Frensley has agreed to keep Munchel in custody until 11 a.m. ET on Monday, while prosecutors seek redress from the DC judge.
However, Frensley suggested that prosecutors’ presentation was more designed to play on the emotions triggered by the attack on the Capitol than to address the legal factors dictating when an accused should be released.
“I made my decision,” said the magistrate. “I am comfortable and convinced that the decisions I made in this case are correct.”
One factor that clearly worked in Munchel’s favor: He traveled to Washington, DC, and entered Capitol Hill alongside his mother, Lisa Eisenhart. She, too, is indicted in the case, but testimony at a lengthy hearing Friday indicated that Eisenhart was the one who suggested they enter the Capitol.
Frensley also heard that Munchel allegedly hid a pocket knife in a backpack and left it outside. In one video, he can be heard saying that he didn’t want to bring weapons into the Capitol. Munchel’s attorney, Caryll Alpert, said Munchel believed the taser he had on him was legal to enter the Capitol because he had encountered DC Police the night before and they didn’t not tempted to take it from him.
Prosecutors pointed to Munchel’s boisterous demeanor in the Senate, shouting phrases such as, “I want that fucking hammer!”
“He clearly has extreme views if he was prepared to participate in this type of conduct,” said Deputy US Attorney Ben Schrader. “There is no reason to believe that he would not engage in this conduct in the future. I have no idea what form this would take. He showed the court what he was prepared to do in clear terms. “
At the end of the hearing, as it became increasingly clear that Frensley was likely to order Munchel’s release, a Washington-based prosecutor jumped into the videoconference hearing to claim that Munchel could attack d ‘other people with conflicting political views.
Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset has sought to present evidence that on the night of the riot, Munchel threatened and laid hold of a Bloomberg News reporter at a Washington, DC hotel. However, Frensley said the evidence portion of the hearing was over and he declined to consider it.