Capitol riot: Champaign County man asks judge to release him from jail

Donovan Crowl
Donovan Crowl

An attorney for a Champaign County man accused of planning and participating in the Jan. 6 Washington, D.C., Capitol riot says he should be released from jail instead of waiting for trial locked up.

Defense attorney Carmen Hernandez, representing Donovan Crowl, said Crowl stayed in the Rotunda area during his time inside the Capitol and that much of the damage to the building was done prior to his arrival.

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“To be clear, Mr. Crowl was not part of the throng of people that Americans watched on national television attacking police officers, breaking windows and doors at the United States Capitol or rifling through legislators’ desks on January 6, 2021,” the attorney said in a motion for release.

Prosecutors have charged Crowl in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding (and aiding and abetting), destruction of government property (and aiding and abetting) and restricted building or grounds.

They accuse him and others of conspiring and participating in a riot designed to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

They also say that Crowl is a member of the Oath Keepers, a group that believes the government has been taken over “by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”

But the defense said in the recent filing that there is evidence to support that Crowl went to D.C. with the intention of only exercising his First Amendment rights and possibly providing security for President Donald Trump’s rally, which took place just before the riot.

“In a series of text messages on January 1, 2021, Mr. Crowl is told by Ms. (Jessica) Watkins that it “looks like we might be security for Roger Stone, if we end up rolling with the Oath Keepers” and that it “Looks like we would be doing Private Security Details the whole time we’re there.”

Watkins is also from Champaign County and is charged along with Crowl in the case.

The attorney said Crowl did not cause injury to anyone and did not destroy any property, staying in the Rotunda and other “public areas” of the Capitol during his time inside.

“Mr. Crowl did not enter the Senate or House Chambers or any Congressional offices. He did not do anything to obstruct or impede any official proceeding or attempt to do so. By the time he is alleged to have entered the Capitol at 2:40 p.m., the proceedings had been adjourned.”

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This is the second time Crowl has attempted to be freed from jail pending trail. The first time, Dayton-based federal magistrate Sharon Ovington denied his request, citing the seriousness of the charges against him and that the home he planned to reside in had firearms inside.

A response by prosecutors to the most recent filing has not been entered in the docket, and a hearing date on the motion has not been set.

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