Opening statements made in Central Florida Oath Keepers defense

Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson face seditious conspiracy charges

Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorneys representing two Central Florida men charged in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol presented their opening statements to a jury in the nation’s capital on Thursday.

Kelly Meggs, of Dunnellon, and Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, both face charges of seditious conspiracy along with three other members of the Oath Keepers, including the group’s leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes.

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According to CBS News, Brad Geyers, Harrelson’s attorney, compared the trial to the Boston Massacre, where British soldiers were acquitted despite public pressure because John Adams defended them in a just court.

This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four others charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. Shown above are, witness John Zimmerman, who was part of the Oath Keepers North Carolina Chapter, seated in the witness stand, defendant Thomas Caldwell, of Berryville, Va., seated front row left, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, seated second left with an eye patch, defendant Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio, seated third from right, Kelly Meggs, of Dunnellon, Fla., seated second from right, and defendant Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, Fla., seated at right. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy is shown in blue standing at right before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta. (Dana Verkouteren via AP) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Stanley Woodward, Meggs’ attorney, said that you don’t have to agree with the Oath Keepers politically to see they’re a “disaster relief’ organization that mobilized against hurricanes, delivered food, and offered “security assessments” after protests in summer 2020.

Their statements came after the prosecution rested its case against the group, who they allege conspired and planned to interrupt the transfer of power.

They claimed the conspiracy included storing a cache of weapons at a hotel in nearby Virginia.

According to CBS, the first defense witness to testify was the husband of another defendant, Jessica Watkins, who testified to her character, talked about her history in the Army and as a firefighter, and how she got involved in the Oath Keepers as their business struggled during coronavirus lockdowns in Ohio.

The day ended with the government’s cross examination of him, during which he confirmed calling Rhodes a “micromanager” and admitted to contributing firearms to the Jan. 6 “Quick Reaction Force” stash in Virginia.

Defense attorneys are expected to call Rhodes to the stand on Friday.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.