FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas man seen putting his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot at the U.S. Capitol was back in federal court on Friday for a bond hearing.
Richard Barnett, 60, is facing multiple charges stemming from the violent protest that left five people, including four protesters and one police officer, dead.
Images of the Gravette resident were widely circulated following those events on January 6, including videos from reporters at the scene where Richardson was holding up mail that he said he took from Pelosi’s office.
During the bond hearing on Friday, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Clay Fowlkes showed those photos, along with surveillance footage showing Barnett walking into the office while carrying an American flag and another shot where he appeared to be recording the scene on video while carrying an object on his hip that prosecutors said was a taser.
Another piece of evidence was a second photo showing Barnett with the mail in hand and the taser on his hip.
Investigators found the packaging the taser was in while executing a search warrant at Barnett’s home and described it as a “Hike ‘N Strike” hiking stick, a high-voltage stun device. Federal agents note they have not found the actual taser.
The investigators determined Barnett purchased the item on December 31 at a store in Rogers, Arkansas, which was confirmed by security footage showing Barnett wearing the same jacket and hat he wore during the riot. A store receipt showed Barnett also purchased 2-way radios and bottles of pepper spray.
Prosecutors also showed the envelope they recovered that Barnett had been seen taking from Pelosi’s office.
Agents with the FBI then testified that after reading Barnett his Miranda rights, he told them that he had been in Pelosi’s office during the riot and admitted to stealing the envelope, which he had with him at the time of the FBI interview.
The agents also noted that police in Fayetteville had told them about incidents that happened prior to January 6 where they had interactions with Barnett.
In July, a woman reported a man pointing a gun at her. When officers arrived, they found a man matching the suspect’s description later determined to be Barnett. Fayetteville Police report that while Barnett seemed agitated, he complied with their orders.
Defense Attorney Anthony Siano pushed back on some of the agents claims saying that in the two incidents in Fayetteville, Barnett had never been cited or named as a suspect in police reports.
Later that month, police confirmed Barnett had a gun with him as he attended a rally in Fayetteville in support of Pres. Donald Trump.
Prosecutors then showed local news reports featuring Barnett from after the November 2020 presidential election in which Barnett could be heard saying that he and other supporters of the president were “not going down easy.”
The agents also claimed that Barnett may have been using two dates of birth in legal documents and that he appeared to control his wife, a claim that Barnett appeared to have dismissed with a smirk.
They also noted that Barnett turned off location services on his phone after his trip to Washington and only paid bills in cash. The agents added that Barnett claims to have gone to Washington alone but did indicate he met up with others once he was there.
Agents said Barnett’s wallet had a large amount of cash, a medical device, a coffee cup and the envelope from Pelosi’s office when he turned himself into authorities.
Prosecutors noted that during his interview with the FBI, Barnett said he loves excitement, and that was what got him into trouble at the Capitol.
There was also contention as Barnett and his defense claimed that the mail stolen from Pelosi’s office was just an empty envelope despite the claims by agents that it was sealed.
Siano also claimed that threats have been made against Barnett since the events of January 6, saying that someone had sent a “white, powdery substance” in the mail and that a U.S. Postal Inspector is investigating.
In response, prosecutors said that beside the Fayetteville incidents, other agencies shared issues that had gone through with Barnett.
FBI agents said they had learned of a Gravette Police Department incident report alleging interactions with Barnett. In one apparent case, Barnett was hanging out parked in a school zone. Officers report he was in possession of an AR-style rifle around his back and a pistol on his side. In another case, it was believed Barnett showed up at the police station, filming the facility. They also reported different threats received around the area involving Barnett.
The agents also noted Barnett has several guns, all legally owned but they have not been able to locate those weapons.
A character witness for Barnett, who was a close friend of his stepdaughter’s described him as a caring and honest man. She said the family’s home was always clean and well-kept and that she never heard Barnett threaten anyone.
The witness added that she was surprised to see images of Barnett on the news.
Another witness, Barnett’s mother-in-law, said she had known him for 20 years and that he had never lied to her. She said that she learned on Monday, January 4, that Barnett was heading to Washington, but that she did not know about the protest until she saw images of Barnett on TV.
She also added that she did not think these acts were in Barnett’s character or that he was a violent man who would hurt anyone.
The next witness speaking for Barnett was his stepdaughter, who described Barnett as “super supportive” and “kind,” adding that for the family he was, “our protector, our everything.”
During prosecutor’s cross examination, Barnett’s stepdaughter said he told her about his plan to go to Washington the weekend ahead of the protest, with her stating that his main reason for going was because “he wants to keep our country” and show support for Trump.
When she began to see news reports on January 6, she was skeptical he was involved, noting that she didn’t “think he went in there violently or anything” and that she “thought the wrong story got out.”
She said she had talked to him Wednesday evening for a brief call when he said he was safe, and then she saw him for a short time the next afternoon.
Barnett’s stepdaughter said that he called the Benton County Sheriff and an attorney as soon as he came home to set up a time for him to surrender to the FBI on Friday morning.
She also said that she was aware her father had three or four guns but noted that they were not in her home and she does not know where they are.
The young woman said she thought Barnett went to Washington with two other people. She also said she did not know why Barnett no longer had his cell phone, which authorities cannot find.
The next witness up was Barnett’s wife, who said she did not support him going into Pelosi’s office but did support him going to the rally to “support our country.”
She added that they do have a firing range on their property but said she did not know exactly how many guns Barnett owns.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors contended Barnett needed to remain in custody, calling the U.S. Capitol a symbol of democracy and noting Barnett traveled throughout the building accessing highly restricted areas. They also said his putting his feet on Pelosi’s desk was an effort to mock her and her office.
Prosecutors said U.S. Marshals currently have Barnet in protective custody.
Barnett’s attorneys argued that their client kept his appointment to turn himself in and should be granted bond.
In handing down her ruling, Chief Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann outlined the great deal of evidence presented by the state, highlighting the direct visual evidence showing Barnett’s acts and noting that the fact that he had come to the protest with a taser and pepper spray.
She also spoke to the man described by the multiple character witnesses and how different that seemed from the man seen in the photos and videos submitted by prosecutors.
In the end, Wiedemann ruled that Barnett would have an unsecured bond set at $5,000. Barnett is also to be placed under home arrest with location monitoring and will be restricted to travel only to court-related or court-approved activities.
He was also told to turn over any passports or other travel documentation and must not be in any contact with witnesses in the case or anyone else who participated in the riot in Washington. He also may not have internet access.
Barnett also cannot request a medical marijuana card or use marijuana in any way and must immediately report any contact with law enforcement to his probation officer.
He is expected to be turned over to his probation officer in the next few days.