In a stunning development, federal prosecutors are suddenly moving to drop all charges against Jan. 6 protester Chris Kelly whom the FBI falsely claimed entered the Capitol building that fateful day.
“The government and defense counsel have discussed the merits of the case and upon reflection of the facts currently known to the government, the government believes that dismissal without prejudice at this time serves the interest of justice,” prosecutors wrote.
The judge has not signed off on the case dismissal yet. A dismissal without prejudice means that the government could bring charges against Kelly again in the future if things change.
Kelly, who is from New York, was arrested on Jan. 21. Months after his initial detainment, officials have determined that he, in fact, never entered the building. He was detained on a federal criminal complaint that charged him with felony obstruction of Congress. He was also accused of misdemeanors that included entering a Secret Service-restricted zone and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
This is the first federal Capitol riot case that prosecutors have dropped. It has purportedly collapsed due to a lack of evidence.
DOJ is moving to dismiss charges against Jan. 6 defendant Chris Kelly, which is a first. The filing is light on details, says prosecutors based the decision "upon reflection of the facts currently known to the government." Here's the original complaint: https://t.co/USgWwkC4AC pic.twitter.com/oJ9VmfYhy8
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) June 1, 2021
Kelly was arrested after a confidential, anonymous informant had the FBI review his Facebook account. There was a picture on the social media platform that allegedly showed the protester posing on Capitol grounds during the riot.
“We’re in,” Kelly stated in one of his posts that the FBI claims were put online at approximately the same time the Capitol building was breached. They also assert that he posted a photo from within the Capitol which turned out not to be his.
The FBI pointed to statements reportedly made on Kelly’s Facebook account that included: “Taking this back by force now” and “F*** these snakes. Out of OUR HOUSE.”
In documents filed in court, an FBI agent stated, “I believe the messages and image … reflect that Chris Kelly was using this account to inform associates that he had breached the Capitol and was inside.”
Kelly’s case apparently did not include cellphone data that would have proven whether or not he was inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Now, the authorities are stating that after further inquiries, they have determined that Kelly never actually entered the Capitol building. Prosecutors are still maintaining that breaking through the police lines outside the building was illegal. But few, if any, have been charged on that count.
“Since he was not inside, in the interest of consistency in the investigation, the charges were dropped,” an official explained.
Kelly has been on pretrial release since he initially appeared in court in January. He ostensibly went to D.C. for the Jan. 6 gathering with his brother, who is a retired New York Police Department officer according to an FBI court filing.
“If you enter the building, you’re gonna get something,” Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Justice Department said. “But if you’re just there unless you did something else … we’re not charging them.”
Kelly’s case isn’t the first time the Justice Department has had problems with its Jan. 6 investigation.
In January, a federal prosecutor in Arizona claimed in court that some of the protesters made plans to “capture and assassinate” elected officials. The comment immediately made headlines. The acting U.S. attorney in Washington warned reporters that the U.S. had found absolutely no evidence of such plans and claimed there was a “disconnect” between prosecutors in different jurisdictions.
Currently, more than 450 defendants are facing charges related to the Capitol riot.
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