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Plea hearing ahead for West Virginia defendant in Jan. 6 breach of U.S. Capitol

One of the West Virginians accused of swarming into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 may enter a guilty plea this week in federal court.

Gracyn Courtright

Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane is scheduled for a plea agreement hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Courtright faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of government property valued less than $1,000.

The allegations claim Courtright entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, was seen on surveillance video, posted her own photos and videos from the site, and wandered around with a Senate “Members Only” sign until an officer took it away.

Courtright has been among about 500 people charged in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots. Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said. Only a few have pleaded guilty so far.

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

As with other defendants, lawyers for Courtright have been participating in the discovery process that could provide evidence to strengthen her defense.

There is so much video evidence and other material, much still being collected, that the government has been working on ways to efficiently share the material to defendants and their lawyers.

“The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Breach will be the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,” federal prosecutors wrote in a boilerplate description of the discovery process that was filed in Courtright’s case.

Although the Capitol breach involved thousands of people with a range of activities and motivations, those who are charged all have some actions in common, prosecutors said.

“Every single person charged, at the very least, contributed to the inability of Congress to carry out the certification of our presidential election,” prosecutors wrote.

Several West Virginians face charges from that day’s events. They include George Tanios, a Morgantown sandwich shop operator accused in the assault of three Capitol police officers with pepperspray, former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, also accused of surging into the Capitol and college senior Courtright of Hurricane.

The hundreds of cases have flooded the federal court system in D.C., where judicial matters had already been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barber has a status hearing scheduled this week, 3 p.m. Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper of the District of Columbia.

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