WASHINGTON (AP) — A Tennessee man and his mother were convicted on Tuesday of charges that they stormed the Capitol, where they brought plastic zip-tie handcuffs into the Senate gallery as a mob attacked the building, court records show.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth convicted Eric Munchel and his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, on all 10 counts in their indictment, including a charge that they conspired to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory on Jan. 6, 2021. The judge is scheduled to sentence both of them Sept. 8.
Lamberth decided the case without a jury after a “stipulated bench trial,” an unusual legal proceeding in which defendants do not admit guilt to charges but agree with prosecutors that certain facts are true. At least three dozen Capitol riot defendants have resolved their cases that way — which allows defendants to preserve their right to an appeal — rather than opting for a traditional trial or pleading guilty.
A jury trial for the pair had been scheduled to start last week.
“Our goal at the end of the day was to show the court that (Munchel) is accepting responsibility for what occurred on Jan. 6,” his attorney, Joe Allen, said after the proceedings ended.
A lawyer for Eisenhart didn't immediately respond on Tuesday to an email seeking comment.
Munchel, 32, of Nashville, Tennessee, worked at a restaurant. Eisenhart, 59, of Woodstock, Georgia, has worked as a traveling nurse.
On Jan. 6, they attended then-President Donald Trump's “Stop the Steal” rally before joining the crowd that marched to the Capitol. Both of them were wearing tactical vests. Munchel had a stun gun holstered to his right hip.
After grabbing plastic handcuffs that they found inside the Capitol, Munchel and Eisenhart entered the gallery above the Senate chamber and stepped over a railing that separated portions of the gallery. Eisenhart chanted, “Treason! Treason!”
Munchel “gleefully” entered the Capitol during a riot while carrying a dangerous weapon, the stun gun, the judge said in a February 2021 ruling.
"By word and deed, Munchel has supported the violent overthrow of the United States government. He poses a clear danger to our republic," Lamberth wrote.
In the riot's aftermath, Eisenhart told a London newspaper that she would “rather die as a 57-year-old woman than live under oppression.”
“I’d rather die and would rather fight,” she added, according to the judge's ruling.
Eisenhart also claimed that she took the plastic handcuffs to keep them away from “bad actors,” the judge noted.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the deadly Jan. 6 riot. Over 600 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a jury or a judge. Over 450 of them have been sentenced, with more than half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.