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Capitol Insurrection

Defense argues for dismissal of charge in Midstate woman's Jan. 6 Capitol attack case

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Capitol Breach Laptop

Walking with attorney Bryan McQuillan, Riley June Williams is released from Dauphin County Prison in January. Williams faces multiple charges in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, including the theft of a laptop that she allegedly helped steal from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Attorneys for a local woman implicated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol seek to have one of the charges against her dismissed based on the applicability of the law itself.

The public defender representing Riley June Williams filed a motion Nov. 19 seeking to dismiss the count of Williams’ indictment that charges her with obstructing an “official proceeding” under federal law, arguing that the alleged disruption of the Electoral College falls outside the established scope of the federal statute.

Williams, a 2017 Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School graduate who now lives in Dauphin County, is one of hundreds of people accused of crimes in relation to the Jan. 6 incident, in which a group of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol during Congress’ certification of the Electoral College results.

According to federal investigators, Williams was involved in the theft of a laptop computer from the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after pro-Trump rioters had broken into Congressional offices.

The indictment against Williams charges her with multiple offenses related to illegal entry and disorderly conduct, as well as the obstruction charge.

In the dismissal motion, Williams’ attorney argues that court precedents point toward an “official proceeding” as being matters of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature, and that federal prosecutors’ move to apply the obstruction statute to the Electoral College is excessively broad.

The prosecution has not yet filed a response, and a judge has yet to rule on the motion. Filing of motions in Williams’ case is expected to continue ahead of a hearing scheduled for Feb. 18, 2022.

Williams can be seen on video “pointing and directing intruders” on the steps leading up to Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 riot, according to the FBI’s affidavit in Williams’ case.

The FBI also obtained a video in which a person believed to be Williams can be heard saying “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand is seen lifting the laptop off the desk in Pelosi’s office, according to the affidavit.

Posts to the online chat service Discord, believed to be from Williams, include messages such as “I STOLE SHIT FROM NANY POLESI [sic],” according to the FBI.

Agents were also tipped off by a former romantic partner of Williams who claimed she intended to send the computer or hard drive to a friend in Russia who would sell it to the Russian foreign intelligence service, according to the FBI affidavit.

During a court appearance in January, Williams’ attorney told a judge that those claims were being “overstated” by Williams’ abusive ex-boyfriend, according to reports from national outlets such as the Washington Post, and that “it is regrettable that Ms. Williams took the president’s bait and went inside the Capitol.”

Beyond her former partner’s allegations, the FBI did not state conclusively that Williams took possession of the laptop, and her attorney told the court that agents have searched her car and home and that Williams does not have the computer, according to the Post.

Williams pleaded not guilty during her formal arraignment in October, according to federal court records.

Williams resides with her mother in Dauphin County, according to court records, and Williams’ father lives in Camp Hill. Williams’ father told the FBI that he drove with his daughter to the protests on Jan. 6, but did not stay with her through the day and met up with her later to return to Pennsylvania, according to the affidavit.

Williams was released from jail shortly after her arrest in January, and is subject to home detention with a location monitoring device and is allowed to leave her home only during limited hours, subject to judicial approval.

Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.

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