Timothy Hale-Cusanelli—a defendant on trial for his involvement in the insurrection at the United States Capital on January 6—has petitioned the court for a change of venue out of D.C.
His reason? "Wahington, D.C. was wrecked by the riot on 6 January 2021" so residents are likely to be biased against him.
Hale-Cusanelli drew attention during his arrest for his pro-Nazi, antisemitic, racist and misogynist views. His admiration for Hitler lead him to choose a distinctive style that caught the public's eye.
In his request, his counsel noted:
"Wahington, D.C. was wrecked by the riot on 6 January 2021, and the riot impacted the transportation and safety of the District of Columbia residents beyond that date."
"Publicity at the time of the event was voluminous, but still continues to this day. D.C. became an unwilling host to this riot, and residents in the Capitol region are conscious of that."
Hale-Cusanelli was arrested in Colts Neck, New Jersey on January 15, 2021.
He was charged with: Civil Disorder; Aiding and Abetting; Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds; Impeding Ingress and Egress in a Restricted Building; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; and Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.
In the criminal complaint lodged against Hale-Cusanelli, prosecutors alleged he admitted to participating in the January 6 coup attempt and even took videos of himself while inside the Capitol Building.
His motion further argues:
"As such, public sentiment to any participant, willing or not, in the riot, cannot be positive, nor can a jury composed of the region's residents be wholly impartial."
"One need only view the media coverage of Mr. Hale-Cusanelli in the capitol region to know he will not have a fair trial by an impartial jury."
Hale-Cusanelli's plea for a new trial venue ironically explains exactly why he is facing a number of criminal charges.
While the disruption he caused may impact a jury's psyche, many are unsympathetic toward his circumstances.
As one person commented:
"'I wrecked DC so let me go somewhere else to face consequences' has got to be up there with the dumbest things ever said in federal court."
"It’s very simple: If you don’t want a trial in DC, don’t commit your crimes in DC."
Some felt this strategy might backfire.
"Dude...I'm no lawyer, but I think it's best to not highlight the fact that you took part in a 'Riot' that 'wrecked Washington DC' and 'impacted the safety of residents'."
Following an indictment, Hale-Cusanelli was arraigned last March and pled not guilty on every charge.
Today he awaits trial.