Proud Boys Jan. 6 trial in hands of jury weighing conspiracy

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FILE - Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio rallies in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 17, 2019. A federal jury is scheduled to hear a second day of attorneys closing arguments in the landmark trial for former Proud Boys extremist group leaders charged with plotting to violently stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

WASHINGTON – Jurors began deliberating Wednesday to decide whether former Proud Boys extremist group leader Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants are guilty of seditious conspiracy in one of the most serious cases the Justice Department has brought in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Deliberations got underway in Washington’s federal court more than four months after jury selection began. The far-right extremist group's members are accused of plotting to use force to keep then-President Donald Trump in the White House after he lost the 2020 election.

Defense attorneys say there was no conspiracy and no plan to attack the Capitol. They’ve sought to portray the Proud Boys as an unorganized drinking club whose members' participation in the riot was a spontaneous act fueled by Trump’s election rage.

Tarrio, a Miami resident, was tried alongside four other Proud Boys: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seditious conspiracy, a Civil War-era charge that can be difficult to prove.

Tarrio is one of the top targets of the Justice Department’s investigation of the riot, which temporarily halted the certification of Biden’s election win.