WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four Ohioans are set to face jury trial at the end of the month for their alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.
They’re among more than a dozen accused members of a right-wing militia known as the Oath Keepers, who allegedly conspired to travel to D.C., enter the Capitol and delay or prevent the certification of the 2020 election.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Oath Keepers as one of the largest anti-government groups in the United States, recruiting primarily former law enforcement officials and military veterans. The name “oath keeper” refers to the oath members take to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders or U.S. laws.
Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, both of Woodstock, Ohio, were among the first three charged in the Oath Keeper conspiracy case, which has since grown to include 17 defendants.
Two other Ohioans, Bernie Parker, 70, and his wife Sandra, 62, were arrested about a month later after an FBI raid of their Morrow home.
The Department of Justice charged all four with conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding with Watkins, Crowl, and Sandra Parker facing additional charges related to the destruction of government property.
According to court documents, the four planned their trips to Washington, D.C. together while communicating with other accused Oath Keepers from across the country. Watkins allegedly self-identified as the commanding officer of the Ohio State Regular Militia, and actively recruited members following the 2020 election.
Crowl, Watkins and the Parkers then allegedly traveled to northern Virginia together and met up with other accused Oath Keepers the morning of Jan. 6. Following the morning’s protests and speech from then-President Donald Trump, the alleged Oath Keepers worked together to move through the crowd and enter the Capitol.
All four pleaded not guilty to all charges and have been indicted five times in front of a grand jury. The jury trial is set for Jan. 31, 2022.
Crowl and the Parkers have both been released on their own recognizance, but despite multiple requests for bond, Watkins remains in jail.
Court filings from Watkins’ attorney, public defender Michele Peterson, claim she has lost the business she owned with her boyfriend, since her arrest and has since renounced the Oath Keepers.
“She has disavowed the Oath Keepers, has disbanded her tiny militia, and has expressed how sickened she was by the things she has learned occurred on January 6,” her attorney wrote. “These were not the words of someone who poses an ongoing threat and are in stark contrast to many others.”
D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta denied the request for release citing her alleged high-ranking position with the Oath Keepers. She’s remained in jail since Jan. 17, 2021.