Feds say evidence in U.S. Capitol riot is massive, but defense not cutting them a break in Quincy case
A lawyer for Jason Gerding told a judge, “The government can simply dismiss this case and bring forth an indictment when it is actually ready to prosecute.”
A clash over the overwhelming breadth of the U.S. Capitol breach investigation and individual trial rights has surfaced in the case of a Quincy couple charged with breaking into the building during the Jan. 6 Electoral College vote.
Prosecutors allege Jason and Christina Gerding appear in a photo posted to Jason Gerding’s Twitter account on Jan. 6 that depicts the couple in the Capitol rotunda. The photo also allegedly appeared on Facebook with the caption, “Quincy made it inside.”
The case, filed in late January, appeared to be the first from Illinois to directly reference the QAnon conspiracy theory. At least three others from Illinois face federal charges in connection with the riot.
Prosecutors wrote in a court filing this week that “The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.” They said more than 300 people have already been charged, and charges against at least 100 more are expected.
The feds said they are working on a system to produce to defense attorneys the massive amount of evidence gathered as a result of the investigation, prioritizing individuals who have been charged and detained pending trial. Others, like the Gerdings, would receive evidence later.
Eugene Ohm, a defense attorney for Jason Gerding, wrote in his own filing that Jason Gerding lost his job as a result of the charges against him, and he “has had difficulty securing new employment.” Despite the feds’ rhetoric, he wrote that Jason Gerding is “in essence, charged with trespassing,” and he objected to the feds’ proposal.
“The government chose to prosecute Mr. Gerding in January when it had no plan to prosecute the case within the restrictions of its discovery obligations,” Ohm wrote. “In turn, the government can simply dismiss this case and bring forth an indictment when it is actually ready to prosecute.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Franks told U.S. District Senior Judge Paul Friedman during a hearing Wednesday that he’s turned over images of the Gerdings’ home, as well as 152 still-image files and 32 video files from the Gerdings’ electronic devices. Though Christina Gerding’s defense attorney said those video files amount to just one video that has been broken up, the prosecutor said it “looks to be the Gerdings proceeding to the Capitol and going into the Capitol.”
Franks also said a video of an interview of the Gerdings would soon be available to defense attorneys.
Friedman seemed to lose his patience during the hearing as lawyers continued to detail conflicts that have arisen over stipulations and the turnover of other pieces of evidence, including electronic equipment taken from the Gerdings’ home. The judge told the lawyers that, “one way to get any of this stuff resolved is to file a motion and I can rule.”
The judge also pointed out that the Gerdings are charged with misdemeanors and have no known criminal record. He urged prosecutors to put plea offers on the table and added there are a “massive number of cases to deal with.”