Bench warrant issued for Ohio couple in Jan. 6 riot case

A bench warrant has been issued by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for a Celina couple charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol building riot after they failed to appear for a hearing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

According to court documents, Shawndale and Donald Chilcoat were initially scheduled to appear for a hearing via Zoom on Sept. 5, but four days before Shawndale Chilcoat filed a pro se motion to ask that the case be dismissed.

In the motion, while arguing that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over her by citing “sovereign citizen” ideology, Chilcoat said that she did not consent to a teleconference hearing, in part because Zoom “can be hacked,” court documents said. The federal court denied the motion, but due to Chilcoat’s comments on using teleconferencing software, it changed the hearing to in person.

It ordered that a copy of the document denying the motion and the order changing the hearing to in person be sent via overnight delivery, court documents said, though an error with the delivery service led them not attempting to deliver the order until the day of the hearing.

According to court documents, the Chilcoats refused to sign for delivery, but did sign when the delivery service tried again the day after the hearing.

At the hearing, the Chilcoats’ attorneys were present, but said they were not able to contact their clients about the change, documents said, so the court checked the teleconference link to see if the Chilcoats had signed on, but they were not present on Zoom either.

Due to their failure to appear either in person or online, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she would issue a bench warrant for both defendants but would held it off for 48 hours and send individual overnight copies of the orders to the Chilcoats.

The court later heard that a Pretrial Services Agency officer in Ohio had spoke to Donald Chilcoat, who had said they were unwilling to appear before the court, and that their lawyers had been unable to contact them.

In addition to the bench warrant, the court also ordered the Chilcoats to appear in person at the courtroom on Oct. 5.

According to a criminal complaint filed with the federal district court, the investigation into the Chilcoats’ actions on Jan. 6, 2021 came within a month of the riot. It was based on “numerous online and telephonic tips,” several of which said that the Chilcoats had posted photos and videos of themselves both in the crowd as it pushing into the Capitol building grounds and inside the building itself, including photos in the Senate chambers.

The tipsters also sent screenshots from the Chilcoats’ social media, including one post where Shawndale Chilcoat wrote, “OK so antifa is being blamed for breaking windows and storming congress. Um no, it was us I was with them and couldn’t be more proud. Please stop giving them credit and realize trumps side has crazies too and they should stew on that for awhile.”

In the complaint, investigators said that the Chilcoats entered a fire door on the northwest side of the Capitol building and moved through the building, at one point entering the Senate chambers, taking photos and videos and sending messages to others on social media.

Both were charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; entering and remaining on the floor of Congress; disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and in any of the Capitol buildings; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in any of the Capitol buildings.

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