Court records show plea agreements possible in Capitol riot case

Prosecutors say they have begun reaching out to some defendants about potential plea agreements in the case that accuses a Champaign County duo and Warren County couple of illegally participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, federal court documents show.

Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, both of Champaign County, and Bennie Parker, 70, and Sandra Parker, 60, are charged in the same case along with 12 other defendants. Federal prosecutors said they have been working to give each defendant and their lawyer discovery from the case.

“The government also only recently began reaching out to defendants’ counsel about possible resolutions of these matters short of trial,” the court document says.

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Exactly which defendants received those communications from the prosecutors remains unclear. Messages to the local defendants’ attorneys asking about whether their clients have received possible plea deals were either not returned or the attorney didn’t answer those questions.

“Mr. Crowl has pleaded not guilty to the charges pending against him and continues to maintain his innocence,” Crowl’s attorney Carmen Hernandez told the Dayton Daily News Wednesday. “Court rules do not allow me to comment beyond that on pending court cases.”

Federal prosecutors didn’t return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Authorities allege that Watkins Crowl and Bennie and Sandra Parker, along with others, planned and participated in the Jan. 6 Washington D.C. Capitol riot. Authorities allege that Sandra Parker, Watkins and Crowl entered the Capitol during the incident. They said that Bennie Parker remained on the grounds.

The four are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and entering restricted buildings or grounds in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Watkins, Crowl and Sandra Parker also face a charge of destruction of government property. That charge was recently dropped for Bennie Parker.

Court records say the defendants were due in court this week for a status conference. The next court date in the case has not been set.

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In a court filing, prosecutors said they have been handing over evidence in the case to defense counsels including most of the U.S. Capitol surveillance footage and other videos, search warrant information and other evidence.

“The investigation of this matter is ongoing and the government continues to gather discoverable materials, which it will continue to provide to the defense on a rolling basis,” the court record says.

Prosecutors also said in the court filing that the discussions around the possible resolutions of cases are ongoing.

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