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Prosecutors dismiss three additional cases in Inauguration Day riots

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Federal prosecutors announced late Friday they were dismissing three additional rioting cases against defendants in the 2017 Inauguration Day protests of President Trump.

The dismissals came a day after D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin ordered seven cases to be dismissed against defendants who were charged in the Jan. 20, 2017, riots after determining the lead prosecutor intentionally misrepresented information and withheld evidence from the defense.

Late Friday, prosecutors said they planned to dismiss charges in the three remaining cases that were scheduled to go to trial this week.

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Prosecutors dismissed the charges of engaging in a riot and two counts of destruction of property for Phillip Glaser, Christian Valencia and Arturo Vasquez. Prosecutors also dismissed Glaser’s additional charges of resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. Morin had already dismissed the conspiracy to riot charge against the three on Thursday. 

All of the charges were dismissed with prejudice, which means they cannot be reinstated by prosecutors.

The dismissals came just hours after the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff briefly defended her handling of the evidence in front of another judge. Kerkhoff, standing before Judge Kimberley Knowles, said her office planned to “file a motion for reconsideration” with Morin to have him reconsider his findings. Court documents late Friday showed prosecutors were “presently assessing its options” regarding Morin’s ruling.

Meanwhile, a jury will continue deliberating Monday on rioting charges against four co-defendants — a case that was heard in front of Knowles. Kerkhoff had asked that one juror in that trial be dismissed after the juror notified Knowles that he had seen a tweet about Morin’s findings on Friday.

Knowles called the juror into the courtroom and asked the juror if he thought he could still be fair and impartial, despite seeing the tweet. The juror said the tweet would not affect his deliberations and Knowles allowed him to return to the jury.

In all, 234 people were charged in connection with the Inauguration Day disturbances. Twenty of those people have pleaded guilty, and prosecutors dropped cases against 20 in early reviews.

The first trial, late last year, resulted in acquittals for all six defendants after jurors said they found no evidence that the six were personally involved in the destruction. The acquittals forced prosecutors to reexamine the remaining cases. In January, the government dropped its cases against 129 people.

With the dismissals this week, prosecutors are now left with 49 defendants to be tried through the remainder of the year.

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