DALLAS - The founder of the extremist militia group Oath Keepers will find out by Wednesday if he will have to remain in custody until his seditious conspiracy trial.
More than 700 people have been charged with crimes related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol this past January, but Elmer Stewart Rhodes and his associates faces the most serious charges yet to come out of the investigation.
A hearing was held Monday in North Texas to decide whether he will be released.
Federal prosecutors told a U.S. Magistrate that Rhodes is dangerous, destroyed evidence and is a flight risk. Defense attorneys called it disingenuous to claim Stewart, a Yale law graduate, is a flight risk a year after the riot.
FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. (Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The government needed to prove Rhodes is a flight risk or a continuing danger to society to keep him in custody. Prosecutors did not speak with the media, but defense attorneys did.
"The judge asked some very pointed questions of the prosecutor when we elicited the fact that if he was so dangerous why did you wait a year to come get him. These indictments started in January of last year and they've waited literally 13 months to come get him," attorney Phillip Linder said.
Defense attorneys said the indictment details things from November 2020 to January 2021 and nothing since.
"And so in means of strategy in trial going forward, we think today was a homerun. "We've got the agent and the government pinned down to kind of a window of acts that they say he did. That gives us something to focus on when we go to trial," Linder said.
Defense attorney James Lee Bright denies the government allegation that Rhodes was a co-conspirator planning and preparing others for a revolution.
"November and December 2020, you can go back and look, they specifically went to D.C. to offer protection for both of the Stop the Steal rallies. Again you can disagree with the basis for the rallies and all of that, but what they did was provide protection," Bright said, claiming that’s what was taking place on January 6.
Bright also said Rhodes and other Oath Keepers did not go into the capitol.
The Granbury man founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. They are accused of mobilizing and equipping some of the hundreds of rioters who mobbed the Capitol.
The government said the group with Rhodes at the helm plotted and planned the attack on the Capitol in the months leading up Jan. 6, 2021.
He reportedly spent thousands on guns and equipment to try and prevent the peaceful transfer of power and even after the insurrection talked about the need for a second civil war.
The Oath Keepers recruit military and law enforcement into its ranks to, according to the group, defend constitutional rights against what it sees as a tyrannical government.
Rhodes is a former U.S. Army Paratrooper and a Yale Law School graduate.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.