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Trial starts for alleged Jan. 6 rioter photographed in Pelosi’s office

Opening statements and trial testimony started Tuesday for the Arkansas man who was photographed with his foot propped up on a desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The way prosecutors tell it, the viral photograph of Richard “Bigo” Barnett casually reclining behind a desk in Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office does not capture all the crimes he committed that day. Prosecutors allege that Barnett, of Gravette, Ark., went into the Capitol with a 950,000-volt stun gun, left a message to Pelosi in her office and took a piece of government mail on his way out.

He was indicted on eight charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and theft of government property.

“’My country will not be socialist as long as I am alive to fight,’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Prout said Barnett had written on Facebook in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

Barnett, 62, is among the more well-known defendants to go on trial in connection with the Jan. 6 riot — largely due to the photograph of him in Pelosi’s office. In 2021, he started a fundraiser to help him with legal fees in connection to the trial; in exchange for at least $100, Barnett indicated he would give a signed photo of him inside the speaker’s office.

In her opening statement, Prout detailed for 12 jurors and two alternates what prosecutors believe Barnett did during the failed insurrection.

She said he was armed with the stun gun, which was concealed inside a metal walking stuck and had sharp spikes that she claimed could used to shock or stab somebody. Prout said Barnett also left a note that referenced a possible expletive: “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here, b—-,” she said the note read.

Brad Geyer, Barnett’s attorney, objected to Prout’s claim about what the final word was, though a judge overruled him. In court filings, they have previously denied Barnett used the expletive the prosecutor said aloud.

The defense chose to defer their opening statement, meaning they will give it later in the trial, when they begin presenting their defense.

“As we finish up jury selection today, please pray for the jurors,” Barnett tweeted Tuesday. “For their health, for their families, that Father will touch their hearts and that truth will be revealed.”

Prosecutors called as their first witness Emily Berret, who worked in Pelosi’s office during Jan. 6 and on whose desk Barnett had placed his foot. She described to the jury running with Pelosi out of the House chamber toward safety, while asking the rest of Pelosi’s staff to lock down in a safe room.

Berret testified sensitive materials were cluttered on the surface where Barnett put his foot, including a business card containing her work phone number — which was the same number Pelosi used that day.

When a photo of him was posted to Twitter, random calls began flooding the phone, Berret testified.

Prout said a police officer and other witnesses from Jan. 6 were set to testify in the days ahead. The trial is scheduled to continue through the week.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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