(WASHINGTON) — A father and son who were among the first of the rioters to enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, learned their fate Wednesday afternoon after a bench trial this week on federal charges they tried to block Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Kevin and Hunter Seefried, of Delaware, were both found guilty of five counts: obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a Capitol building or grounds; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
They will be sentenced in September.
On the most serious count, obstructing an official proceeding, they face a maximum of 20 years’ in prison.
They chose to have a bench trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.
While prosecutors said Kevin and Hunter wanted to break into the Capitol during the joint session of Congress along with the larger pro-Trump mob, their defense attorneys argued the two were not there to disrupt the electoral process.
Kevin carried with him a large Confederate battle flag — which prosecutors called a “symbol of violent opposition” — that he brought from his Delaware home as he breached the complex.
He was captured in photographs that later circulated widely and helped lead to his arrest after, authorities have said, his son talked to someone at work about being at the Capitol.
Prosecutors said Hunter was one of the first people to illegally enter the Capitol after a pro-Trump rally near the White House earlier that day. He was seen in viral videos breaking a window with his hand to enter the building. Hunter faced three additional charges of destruction of government property.
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman — lauded by many for his efforts to keep the rioters away from Vice President Mike Pence and the evacuating members of Congress — was a key witness at the Seefrieds’ trial, having encountered both of them in the Capitol.
Goodman testified in court on Monday, describing the clashes between the mob and police as like “something out of medieval times” and saying that after he ran into Kevin Seefried inside the Capitol, the latter tried to hit him with the end of his flagpole three or four times.
Kevin was “very angry, screaming,” Goodman testified.
Hunter “was just disobeying commands,” Goodman said.
While Goodman was at the Capitol during the riot, he was hit with bear spray and had objects thrown at him by the crowd, including an apple that struck him in his head, he said.
Goodman, who served during the Iraq War, said: “I’ve never seen something like that before.”
He said that he retreated to a makeshift triage to rinse his face but that the spray “had a pretty bad effect on me.” He threw up several times before heading back outside the Capitol to continue assisting colleagues against the mob.
Later, he returned inside and came face-to-face with Kevin, who was carrying his battle flag. Goodman said that Kevin repeatedly tried to strike him with the end of the flagpole and that he could hear people scream, “Where are they counting the votes?” and, “Where are the members at?”
Goodman called on rioters to “get back” and “get out” as they came closer to him and he felt confined, he testified. He said Kevin told him, “We’re thousands, you’re just one,” adding, “We’re ready for war.”
Goodman told the court that he feared for his safety, especially after noticing a teardrop on tattoo on Kevin’s face, which Goodman felt was synonymous with someone who had previously committed murder.
“I was just outnumbered,” he testified.
The defense worked to undercut Goodman’s testimony, arguing that he may have “innocently misremembered” and that he was focusing on more violent rioters.
Neither of the Seefrieds was accused of assaulting police.
The prosecution, however, said that Goodman was no novice to chaotic environments and the Seefrieds had corroborated his testimony during FBI interviews days after Jan. 6, when Kevin admitted that he motioned toward Goodman with his flag.
Judge McFadden previously acquitted two other individuals in Jan. 6 cases: one defendant was cleared on all charges; the other, Couy Griffin — the leader of “Cowboys For Trump” — was acquitted on one of two counts.
In the Seefrieds’ case, however, McFadden made it clear that the two men did obstruct the counting of the Electoral College votes. The judge said in court on Wednesday that “senators had to shelter in place because of the mob’s illegal actions.”
But on Hunter’s charges of damaging property, McFadden noted that the window Hunter used to enter was already severely damaged by two other men who had broken it using a police shield and plywood.
The judge said he also found all law enforcement who testified in the case to be extremely credible, including Goodman.
McFadden said that he found the elder Seefried to be “the prime mover” in the decision to come to Washington on Jan. 6. He said Hunter, whom the defense tried to portray as less politically active, was following his father.
Still, as the day progressed, Hunter was “riled up and angry,” the judge found. Hunter previously told the FBI that events became “heated,” leading up to the breach at the Capitol.
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