By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A former singer for the punk rock band The Misfits who was in Washington on the day of the U.S. Capitol riot has emerged as a doable trial witness as protection attorneys search to undermine the prosecution’s bid to show conspiracy costs in opposition to some members of the right-wing Proud Boys group.
Michale Graves, the lead singer of the veteran band from 1995 to 2000, mentioned a Proud Boys member requested him to play some songs for a personal live performance deliberate for the afternoon of Jan. 6. That was the day of the Capitol assault that left 5 individuals lifeless, together with a police officer.
Graves, who mentioned he turned a member of the Proud Boys final 12 months, advised Reuters he didn’t suppose the group was able to planning an invasion of the Capitol, as prosecutors have mentioned.
“These guys have a tough time getting an order collectively for McDonalds,” Graves, whose authorized title is Michael Emanuel, mentioned in an interview.
Legal professionals representing Ethan “Rufio” Nordean, a distinguished determine within the Proud Boys and one of many defendants charged with conspiracy, mentioned in a court docket submitting on Monday that he had deliberate on holding what they known as a “carefree music celebration” on Jan. 6 that may have featured Graves.
Although this celebration by no means occurred, protection attorneys mentioned planning for such an occasion scheduled for a time when the riot truly was nonetheless going down contradicted the notion that the group had a plan to “topple the federal government” that day.
Protection attorneys mentioned 1,500 messages exchanged by members of the Proud Boys on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 on the Telegram messaging app – collected as proof by the FBI – additionally solid doubt on the existence of a conspiracy.
A Justice Division spokeswoman declined to touch upon the protection submitting or on Graves’ account of live performance plans.
Prosecutors at a listening to on Thursday are set to ask a decide to order Nordean detained pending trial. They’ve failed in two prior requests for Nordean’s pretrial detention. Proof cited within the new protection submitting might be raised on the listening to.
Proud Boys members had been amongst these in a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6. Prosecutors have accused Nordean and different right-wing figures of conspiring to take the Capitol by drive to forestall Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Graves, 46, mentioned he traveled to Washington and carried out music at a Jan. 6 rally organized by a gaggle known as “Latinos for Trump” held earlier than the Capitol assault unfolded.
Graves mentioned he met up with Nordean someday earlier. Graves mentioned Nordean requested him to play a personal live performance on Jan. 6 between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. at a home that the Proud Boys had rented to spice up the morale of the group’s members after its chief, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested on Jan. 4 on gun costs.
Graves mentioned he agreed to carry out, however that he and his supervisor later “ghosted” his Proud Boy buddies on Jan. 6 and left Washington as chaos engulfed the Capitol.
Arturo Santaella, who serves as supervisor for Graves and joined him in Washington on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, vouched for his account of the occasions.
“They aren’t this well-oiled machine,” Santaella mentioned of the Proud Boys.
Within the court docket submitting, protection attorneys mentioned Telegram messages present the group was in disarray through the assault.
One message learn: “Ummm I do not suppose the plan was to assault … harm, and try to regulate the constructing.”
“That is so unorganized!” one other message learn. “The place is our order?”
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Modifying by Andy Sullivan and Will Dunham)