A federal judge has set a June 6 trial date for Morgantown resident George Tanios and his alleged accomplice Julian Khater, who are accused of working together to assault U.S. Capitol police officers with pepperspray.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan of Washington, D.C., said it’s important to move the case toward trial because Khater remains in a crowded jail system that continues to be affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Tanios was released on bond and is on home confinement.
“It concerns me that we’re not getting this to trial, so I want to get it done,” Hogan said.
Tanios and Khater are among 725 arrested in various crimes for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Judge Hogan asked about any other discussions to resolve the cases, referring to plea deals. Lawyers for the defendants acknowledged those discussions, but said nothing has been resolved so far.
Hogan said establishing the trial date might be a motivating factor. “It focuses people once we have a trial date, to get the work done,” he said.
Tanios is accused of obtaining and carrying the pepperspray, and Khater is accused of spraying it at officers, causing them to be injured and resulting in a distraction that enabled others to breach a bike rack barrier outside the Capitol. One of the officers, Brian Sicknick, later died but a medical examiner ruled the chemical spray was not the direct cause.
Tanios and Khater are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Tanios has pleaded not guilty.
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.
Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.
West Virginians facing federal charges of entering the Capitol that day are former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane.
Barber and Cartright have pleaded guilty. Cartright was sentenced to serve a month in jail, and Barber’s sentencing is still ahead.