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Jurors struggle over at least one charge in Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial

The trial, which began with jury selection in December, is one of the most important cases in the Justice Department's sprawling investigation into the Capitol attack.
Enrique Tarrio, center, in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 17, 2019.
Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio in Portland, Ore., in 2019.Noah Berger / AP file

WASHINGTON — Jurors deliberating the fate of five Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to be struggling with the charges against at least some of the defendants.

The jury sent a note Tuesday morning asking U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly for additional instruction about what to do if they do not agree on all charges. “We did not receive instructions on what to do if the jury does not reach unanimity on a charge. How should we proceed in this scenario?” the note said, in part.

The jury began deliberating Wednesday and did not deliberate Friday morning, meaning it spent roughly the equivalent of three full days considering the case before it sent the note.

Kelly sent a note back telling the jury it was allowed to deliver a partial verdict and saying to send him a note if it were deadlocked over a charge.

Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl each face nine counts, including the rare charge of seditious conspiracy under a Civil War-era statute. Pezzola — who was caught on video smashing in a window with a Capitol Police shield and admitted to his behavior on the stand — faces an additional charge over the stolen police shield.

The biggest challenge prosecutors faced was convincing a jury that Tarrio, the former Proud Boys chairman, was a part of the conspiracy, given that he spent Jan. 6, 2021, at a hotel in Baltimore after he was banned from Washington, D.C., the day before.

Tarrio, in encrypted messages revealed at the trial, acknowledged having received a message from someone who wanted to “storm the Capitol” but did not directly endorse the plan, and prosecutors seemed to concede that much of what happened on Jan. 6 happened spontaneously. What they were able to show was that Tarrio said he wanted a “spectacle” on Jan. 6 and that he celebrated the attack, giving the Proud Boys credit for the breach.

Several other Proud Boys have pleaded guilty for their actions on Jan. 6, one of whom pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

The trial has dragged on over about five months; jury selection began in December, and the jury heard opening arguments in early January.