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North Texas Man Charged With Seditious Conspiracy For US Capitol Attack Was Set To Testify Before Congressional Committee

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - After a lengthy detention hearing Monday, Jan. 24, a Federal Magistrate Judge announced she would decide in the next 24 to 48 hours whether to detain or release a North Texas man charged with seditious conspiracy and other offenses in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol last year.

Until then, Elmer Stewart Rhodes remains in custody amid accusations from federal prosecutors that he plotted to oppose by force the transfer of Presidential power while a joint session of Congress was certifying the November, 2020 election.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III
(credit: Collin County Jail)

At the end of the court hearing, Rhodes's attorney, Phillip Linder, told Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson that his client was cooperating with the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack.

During an interview after the hearing, Linder told reporters, "He got subpoenaed to bring documents to testify and was set for some time in January, got reset to February 2nd, and now he can't testify. There are people I've gotten a call from this week they're very upset DOJ didn't wait a month to indict him so he could have testified first."

In court, Rhodes's attorneys challenged prosecutors' assertions that he's a danger to the community.

His attorneys asked if their client was so dangerous, why wasn't he arrested until 11 days ago at a house in Little Elm where he was staying?

Linder told reporters, "In our minds, we're just like how you can just now say he was dangerous. What are we missing?"

Prosecutors have said that Rhodes started planning two days after the November, 2020 election by sending encrypted messages to fellow members of the militia group the Oath Keepers, which he founded.

According to court documents, in one message sent December 11th, Rhodes said that if President-elect Joe Biden were to become President, "It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We are going to have a fight that can't be avoided."

Prosecutors have said before January 6th, Rhodes bought about $22,000 in weapons and accessories in support of his conspiracy and that they were for an armed quick reaction force staying at a motel in Arlington, Virginia.

Another attorney for Rhodes, James Lee Bright, told reporters the weapons were all purchased legally, remained outside of Washington, D.C., and were intended for two political rallies near the Capitol and not for the attack on the Capitol. They had actually worked with the Latinos for Trump rally and the Allie Alexander rally to provide protection on that day."

Rhodes lawyers also rejected prosecutors claims that their client poses a flight risk, saying he wants a speedy, public trial.

Linder said, "Whether you believe in what he stands for or not, he has a very public platform that he wants to put forth. For him to duck and run and avoid a trial, thwarts all of that."

During the hearing, one of Rhodes's cousins, only identified as Benjamin, offered to be his third-party custodian.

That would require Rhodes to live with him and his family on their ranch in California.

The judge told Benjamin that he would be required to notify the court if Rhodes violated any of his conditions of release, and Benjamin agreed to do so under oath.

Rhodes's attorneys said regardless of what the magistrate judge in Plano decides, they and federal prosecutors have vowed to appeal the decision to a federal district judge in Washington, D.C.

That judge could then hold a separate detention hearing to determine whether Rhodes would be released.

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