Jessica Watkins, an oath guard charged with conspiracy to storm the US Capitol, has petitioned for her release for being “treated harshly” and “at particular risk” for being transgender . She also argues that she posed no threat to the public and only went to the Capitol because “she believed the President of the United States was calling her”.
Watkins, 38, a former Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, was “forced out of the military after her sexual orientation was discovered,” wrote her attorney in a home detention petition filed late Saturday. In the petition, Watkins alleged that she was stripped naked in an Ohio county jail and “left in a cell with lights on 24 hours a day in full view of everyone for 4 days.” According to the lawyer, this was in response to a hunger strike Watkins went on in a failed attempt to get medical help because of an injury to her arm.
Watkins has been held in at least two facilities since her arrest, including the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio. A spokeswoman for the district sheriff’s office that manages the prison said she was unable to provide an immediate statement. It was not clear where Watkins was being held on Saturday night.
Watkins, who runs a bar called Jolly Roger in Woodstock, Ohio, came forward and was arrested on January 17th. She faces some of the most serious charges to emerge from the January 6 riot.
A grand jury has accused them and eight others associated with the extremist Oath Guardian group of descending “organized and practiced” on the Capitol to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election as president.
Watkins was in full tactical gear as she joined a line of Oath Guardians who pushed their way through the crowd outside the Capitol, up the stairs, and finally inside the building. Prosecutors have received messages and videos showing them delighted with what happened that day.
“Yes. We stormed the Capitol today,” she wrote in a message to the Parler social app. “Tear gas, the whole 9th. We pushed our way into the rotunda. We even made it into the Senate. The news lies (even Fox ) about the historical events that we have created today. “
Prosecutors have alleged that Watkins was part of an organized group of Oath Guards and that they are plotting to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
Court records show that as early as November 9, less than a week after the election, Watkins sent text messages inviting people to basic training for their group in Ohio and telling one person, “I need you to get fit through innaugeration. ” [sic]. “
However, Watkins attorney and federal defense attorney Michelle Peterson argues that she poses no threat and is allowed to return home with a GPS monitor pending trial.
According to Peterson, Watkins has no history of violence, no previous convictions, and while she acknowledges entering the Capitol, she “did not destroy anything … or participated in the destruction of property and encouraged others not to destroy.”
The public defender also noted that Watkins spoke to police officers in the Capitol, followed their instructions and “participated in medical rescue operations for the injured during the incident.” Watkins is a retired firefighter and paramedic who worked for a local fire department in Fayetteville, NC for several years.
The file states that when Watkins found out she was being wanted for questioning, she “drove nearly eight hours to report to the local police.”
When she did so, according to court records, the authorities were not even aware that she was wanted as her arrest warrant had not yet been incorporated into the national system.
In a filing last week in which she argued to stay behind bars, prosecutors argued that Watkins, who founded the Ohio State Regular Militia in 2019 and is a contributing member of the Oath Keepers, “was not a supporting actor who got carried away at the moment, but a key figure who started the violence that has overwhelmed the Capitol. “
Watkins, she added, “formed a subgroup of the most extreme insurgents who planned and then tried to implement an elaborate plan to forcibly prevent the effects of the results of a presidential election.”
For her part, Watkins argued that Trump induced her to go to the Capitol. “Although misguided,” wrote her attorney, “she believed she supported the Constitution and its government by providing security services at the rally organized by Mr. Trump and the Republican legislature in support of his goals.”
Last week a federal judge denied a motion for the release of Thomas Caldwell, a Virginia man accused of coordinating the Capitol raid with Watkins, who was charged with her and the others. Caldwell “poses a threat not only to the community but also to the very fabric of democracy,” said Judge Amit Mehta.