A Carthage man facing federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection is seeking to move his trial out of the District of Columbia, saying he cannot get a fair trial.
Alex Harkrider is seeking to have his trial moved because, according to a motion filed Monday by his attorney Kira Anne West, there are too many potential jurors in the District of Columbia with a personal connection to the event, most D.C. residents are biased to convict Jan. 6 suspects and continued public hearings and publicity about the cases continue to poison the air.
“Mr. Harkrider respectfully submits that these concerns are pressing in this case,” West’s motion says. “Additionally, facts show that the District of Columbia jury pool is already tainted and with each passing day and the media coverage of the January 6th House Select Committee hearings, there is no hope that Mr. Harkrider can obtain a fair and impartial jury in the District of Columbia.”
Attached with the motion to change trial venues are several surveys conducted about the Jan. 6 event, including a “multi-district study” conducted in four U.S. district court regions: D.C., the Middle District of Florida, the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Eastern District of Virginia. West highlights the study’s findings that D.C. residents had a much more negative reaction to defendants in Jan. 6 cases compared to the other areas.
“The majority of potential jurors in the District of Columbia were personally impacted in some way by the events on Capitol Hill on J6. See Ex. A at 4. This factor weighs heavily in favor of transferring the instant cases to the Eastern District of Virginia or some other District,” West argues. “D.C. is a city that, as a whole, feels that it has been the victim of a crime because of the events of J6.”
West, in her motion, argues that negative press coverage, especially in light of the January 6 Select Committee hearings, has prejudiced potential jurors.
“The January 6 Select Committee has released a number of public statements about alleged ‘insurrectionists,’ ‘white supremacists,’ and ‘domestic terrorists.’ Speaker Pelosi went so far as to declare that Donald Trump was an accessory to murder. Respectfully, Harkrider does not agree that J6 was an act of domestic terror,’ ‘a white supremacist attack,’ or an ‘insurrection’ on his part. In fact, unlike D.C. residents, most Americans, as the three attached surveys show, believe that J6 was a very large protest that got out of hand and turned into a riot by a select few that were there.”
Several locations were suggested to move the trial, including the Eastern District of Virginia, noted for it being close to D.C. and convenient for the Court, or the Northern or Eastern Districts of Texas, which would be more convenient for Harkrider and the Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the case.