A friend of Jessica Watkins, Capitol riot suspect and member of the far-right Oath Keepers group, has requested a judge release from custody, claiming she is not dangerous but rather an “idiot” whose “feelings outpaced her brain.”
In court filings, the longtime friend of Watkins, identified only as Zach H, pleaded she be granted pretrial release, saying she is not a terrorist but someone who was “brainwashed by those deeply entrenched in conspiratorial beliefs.”
Watkins, 38, of Champaign County, Ohio, is accused of a number of offenses, including conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry of a restricted building or grounds in connection to the January 6 riots.
She has been charged with eight other associates of the Oath Keepers, an explicitly anti-government militia group whose members are preparing for a new civil war in the country.
“I have to believe that surreptitious and untrustworthy individuals played on the stresses of Jess’s life and manipulated her to take advantage of her many skills,” her friend wrote in the filings.
“I have to believe that Jess would have never participated in the attack on the 6th if she had not been so purposefully misguided by those who stood to wield her experience as a weapon against this country.
“For lack of a better term, I believe my friend was brainwashed by those deeply entrenched in conspiratorial beliefs, and that (as has been a matter of record with her) Jess’s feelings outpaced her brain.
“My friend is an idiot, and I have never been more angry or upset with her in my life, but I do not believe that she wanted to become a terrorist that day,” he added.
“I don’t believe that she is wholly unaccountable for her actions—nor do I believe she should or would want to be—but I urge the court from my humble place as an ordinary citizen to show the mercy that I know Americans are capable of.”
Watkins has been held in custody since she was charged in mid-January. A judge is due to decide on Tuesday if she can be released ahead of her trial. Watkins denies all the allegations against her.
Elsewhere, an attorney for Watkins clarified previous claims that the Oath Keeper was in Washington, D.C. on January 6 to provide security and was even given a “VIP pass” and “met” with Secret Service agents.
In a motion, Watkins’ federal public defender said the 38-year-old was not in the capital on January 6 as an insurrectionist, but to act as security at the pro-Donald Trump rally beforehand and to “provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then President.”
Her counsel has now apologized for the “less than clear” comments and states that she did not try to claim she worked with the Secret Service to provide security on January 6.
“Counsel in no way meant to imply that Ms. Watkins met with the Secret Service,” the new motion said. “A better verb would have been ‘encountered.’
“Ms. Watkins does not suggest that she has any direct knowledge that her role as security was sanctioned by anyone other than people involved in organizing the rally. She certainly did not mean to suggest that she was hired by the U.S. Secret Service to perform security.”
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/oath-keeper-jessica-watkins-capitol-riot-1571271 on .