WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — A Gravette man became one of the most prominent faces of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol when he was seen putting his feet up on the desk in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office.
Richard Barnett, 61, seemingly boasted about his participation in the riot, even allegedly scrawling “Big O was here” beside an expletive directed at Pelosi on a paper left behind in her office. Barnett is one of over 950 defendants charged for their actions that day, according to the Department of Justice.
His trial begins today in Washington, D.C., where he faces eight federal charges. Below is a timeline of events that led to this day.
January 6, 2021: KNWA identified Barnett as the man seen in Pelosi’s office on the day of the riot. He conducted an interview in November, 2020 as part of a “Stop the Steal” rally in Bentonville supporting Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election.
“I’m sickened to learn that the below actions were perpetrated by a constituent,” said Rep. Steve Womack in a social media post after he learned about what happened on January 6. “It’s an embarrassment to the people of the Third District and does not reflect our values. He must be held accountable and face the fullest extent of the law. This isn’t the American or Arkansas way.”
Gravette Mayor Kurt Maddox added that the photo of Barnett in Pelosi’s office brought his small town unwelcome attention and said some residents received threats.
January 7, 2021: Barnett was charged in federal court in Washington. He was arrested by FBI agents after turning himself in at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office the next day.
January 8, 2021: The FBI executed a search warrant at Barnett’s home on the outskirts of Gravette.
January 9, 2021: The Arkansas Patriots organization released a statement, denying any affiliation with Barnett.
“Richard Barnett is in no way, nor has he ever been affiliated with the Arkansas Patriots.
The only contact we’ve ever had with him was when he was removed from a Back the
Blue Rally in Fayetteville, AR because of his words directed towards BLM members who
were also present,” the release said.
January 12, 2021: Barnett made his initial court appearance via Zoom. A subsequent hearing on January 15, 2021 revealed that he went to the riot in possession of pepper spray and a taser. A judge set an unsecured bond of $5,000 and ordered Barnett to be placed under house arrest with monitoring of his location.
January 16, 2021: A different federal judge reversed Barnett’s release on bond, ordering him to be taken into custody and transported to Washington. On January 28, 2021, a court ordered him to be held there without bond.
February 2, 2021: A scheduled court hearing was delayed—the first of what would be many delays leading up to Barnett’s trial. Defense attorney Anthony Siano requested more time to meet with the defendant. Barnett was indicted on seven charges by a grand jury the next day and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on February 5.
April 5, 2021: Barnett’s attorneys filed a motion seeking a bail modification. The 46-page filing asked for him to be released on “personal recognizance” or, failing that, into the third-party custody of his wife with GPS monitoring.
The prosecution filed a response in opposition to that request.
“The defendant poses an ongoing and specific threat of prospective danger. Consequently, he must be detained pending trial,” U.S. prosecutors stated.
Barnett was released under special conditions on April 28, 2021.
June 18, 2021: Barnett’s request to be able to travel so he could buy and sell antique cars was denied. He had asked that a 50-mile limit be increased to 200-250 miles. The court also denied Barnett’s request to engage in overnight travel over concerns regarding the logistics of supervision.
October 25, 2021: A Department of Justice memo revealed that the government shared “thousand of hours of video footage and hundreds of thousands of investigative documents” with Barnett’s defense team.
The footage came from multiple sources including U.S. Capitol surveillance footage, body camera footage, results of searches of devices and Stored Communications Act accounts, digital media tips, video from the social networking site Parler, and news footage. In November, both sides agreed that additional time was needed for discovery before proceeding to trial.
November 22, 2021: Barnett provided an exclusive interview with KNWA, discussing his actions and motivations on January 6.
“I think more than anything I just wanted to feel like I was closer to the seat of power,” Barnett said. “When you’re talking about the type of charges many of us got filed against us and the extremes they’ve gone to, it’s out of the ordinary. It’s not normal.”
February 4, 2022: The court set a trial date of September 6, 2022. The defense filed a motion to extend a pretrial filing deadline, citing the thousands of discovery files.
April 12, 2022: In a pretrial hearing that lasted just five minutes, Barnett rejected the government’s offer of a plea deal. Sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of 70-87 months, and Barnett’s team cited that and his advanced age as reasons that they could not accept the offer “in good conscience.”
May 31, 2022: The prosecution submitted multiple filings, primarily aimed at clarifying language in the indictment against Barnett. It also sought to limit the scope of potential Secret Service testimony for security reasons.
July 18, 2022: The trial start date was continued from September 6 to December 12 as the defense cited lead attorney Joseph D. McBride’s health after recovering from COVID-19.
September 22, 2022: The defense filed multiple motions in court, including asking for one count against the defendant to be dismissed for “failure to state an offense.” A second motion asked for the prosecution to be prohibited from using a list of “inflammatory” terms and language at trial, including “mob,” “rioter,” and “treason.” Another sought a change of venue.
The government submitted lengthy opposition briefs to all those requests on October 6. The two sides continued filing pretrial motions and replies during the month.
November 22, 2022: The court delayed the trial’s start date again, moving it back from December 12, 2022 to January 9.
December 21, 2022: The government announced its intention to file a superseding indictment against Barnett, charging him with an additional eighth crime, civil disorder.
The defense referred to this as an “eleventh hour surprise” and would cite it as the primary reason for subsequent requests for extensions and delay requests to the court. The defense then missed pretrial deadlines to file lists of potential expert witnesses and evidence exhibits.
January 2: The government filed a motion asking a federal court to preclude the defense from submitting what it calls “irrelevant evidence” related to the actions of others during the riot.
“He is not charged with conspiracy. Nor is he charged together with any codefendants. The government seeks to hold the defendant accountable for his conduct alone.”
Government Motion In Limine, USA vs. Richard Barnett, January 2
January 5: The defense filed a pair of motions, seeking to have two of the charges against Barnett dropped due to details of the superseding indictment. The next day, the government filed an opposition to those requests.
January 9: The sides continued filing responses and motions before the trial began, including a defense request to exclude as evidence a government video that it found “unfairly prejudicial as it is edited in a manner of a Hollywood movie to create a sense of tension for the viewer.”
The court will rule on any remaining motions before the trial begins.