Mistrial declared in gun case against Capitol riot suspect

Dec 16, 2022, 7:20 PM | Updated: Dec 17, 2022, 9:35 am

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge in Virginia has declared a mistrial in a firearms-related case against a U.S. Naval reservist who is separately charged with storming the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff declared the mistrial on Friday after a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, failed to reach a unanimous verdict on charges that Hatchet Speed illegally possessed unregistered silencers for guns. The Washington Post reports that Justice Department prosecutors intend to retry the case against Speed.

Speed also faces charges in Washington, D.C., that he joined a mob’s attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. For that case, a bench trial without a jury is scheduled to start on Feb. 6.

Speed was charged in Virginia with owning three unregistered silencers after FBI agents found the devices during a search of a storage unit that Speed had rented in Alexandria.

Speed’s lawyers said he never modified the devices to convert them into functioning silencers. Defense attorney Courtney Dixon told jurors that Speed was a gun enthusiast who was stocking up on scarce items during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before his arrest in June, Speed told an an undercover FBI agent that he stormed the Capitol with members of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group, authorities said. Speed also said he had contemplated using violence to further his antisemitic beliefs and discussed using violence against members of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, according to prosecutors.

The FBI said Speed was a petty officer first class in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was assigned to the Naval Warfare Space Field Activity at the National Reconnaissance Office, an agency that operates U.S. spy satellites used by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.

After the Capitol riot, Speed bought at least 12 firearms over the span of a few months and spent more than $50,000 at firearm and firearm-part retailers, a prosecutor said in a court filing.

“This firearm-buying spree is alarming in light of statements that Speed has made in which he has espoused the use of violence to further his anti-government and anti-Semitic ideologies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Loeb wrote.

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Mistrial declared in gun case against Capitol riot suspect