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House arrest plan for invader of Pelosi's office halted

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell stayed the decision to confine Richard Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial, and instead ordered that Barnett be brought to Washington “forthwith” for proceedings in his case.

The decision came hours after a judge in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor to track his location. U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann's ruling also prohibited Barnett from using the internet or having contact with anyone else who participated in the Jan. 6 violence.

Barnett was among supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol as lawmakers assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Five people died during the violent insurrection, including a Capitol police officer. During a nearly five-hour hearing Friday via video conference, federal prosecutors had argued that Barnett should remain in custody.

“If (Barnett) will travel across the country and engage in this level of criminal behavior because he believes that he is right and it is the Electoral College that is wrong, what would deter him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Harris said.

Barnett is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area with a lethal weapon— a stun gun. Barnett is also charged with disorderly conduct and theft of public property. He faces up to 11 1/2 months in prison if convicted.

“I think your honor can shape a release order that provides a sufficient array of conditions that will allow my client to be released, that will allow my client to effectively defend himself and... will allow him to build enough of a ‘fence' around him that if he stumbles, it will be brought to your honor's attention almost immediately," Anthony Siano, Barnett's attorney, told the judge during the hearing.

He surrendered voluntarily Jan. 8 to FBI agents at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has remained in the Washington County jail since then.

During Friday's hearing, prosecutors showed pictures of Barnett sitting at a desk in Pelosi's office and Capitol security video of him inside the building. They also showed footage of him bragging on a bullhorn to a crowd outside the Capitol about taking an envelope from the speaker's office. Prosecutors also cited concerns that Barnett had not turned over the stun gun or the cell phone he took with him to Washington.

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