- A judge ordered Riley Williams detained ahead of her sentencing in February on January 6 charges.
- The jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on a charge Williams helped steal a laptop from Pelosi.
- Williams appeared to grow distressed as prosecutors asked that she await sentencing behind bars.
A Pennsylvania woman who entered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on January 6, 2021, was found guilty Monday on six charges stemming from the Capitol attack, but a jury failed to reach a consensus on whether she helped steal a laptop from the Democratic leader.
The jury also deadlocked on whether Riley Williams, 23, obstructed an official proceeding by joining with the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol — a felony charge that was among the most serious she faced in connection with January 6. Judge Amy Berman Jackson declared a mistrial on the theft and obstruction charges before ordering Williams to be detained as she awaits sentencing in February.
Jackson said she had “no confidence whatsoever” in Williams’ respect for the rule of law.
Federal prosecutors can retry Williams on the two charges that resulted in a deadlock, but the mistrial nonetheless marked the first time a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict convicting an accused Capitol rioter on charges related to January 6.
In previous jury trials, Capitol rioters have been found guilty on all charges they faced, including obstruction of an official proceeding. The only acquittals in January 6 cases have come in so-called bench trials, in which a judge — rather than a jury — reviews evidence and hands down the verdict.
Williams showed no visible reaction as the jury handed down guilty verdicts on six counts, including a charge that she impeded police officers protecting the Capitol on January 6. But, after remaining free with conditions while facing charges, she grew distressed as federal prosecutors requested that she await sentencing behind bars.
“I don’t want to be in jail,” she whispered to her defense lawyers.
As Williams was escorted out of the courtroom, her defense lawyer appeared to declare victory based on the jury’s failure to reach unanimous verdicts on the obstruction and theft charges.
“You won. Just remember that: You won,”‘ defense lawyer Lori Ulrich told Williams.
The conviction of Williams capped a trial in which federal prosecutors depicted her as a member of the mob who emerged on January 6 as an on-the-ground leader of rioters who ransacked the Capitol. Williams “led an army” to Pelosi’s office suite, prosecutors said, where she encouraged fellow rioters to steal a laptop the speaker used for Zoom meetings.
Prosecutors also described Williams as a “Groyper,” a term for supporters of white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who spent weeks urging listeners of his podcast to oppose the transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. During the trial, an ex-boyfriend of Williams’ testified that she had grown obsessed with Fuentes’ podcast in the weeks leading up to January 6.
The trial featured images of rioters ransacking Pelosi’s office, with some suggesting that they steal a pair of pink boxing gloves that the House speaker kept on a table. Prosecutors also presented photographs of Williams pushing fellow rioters against a police line and pressing against officers herself.
Williams’ defense lawyers acknowledged that she was guilty of some misdemeanor charges she faced, but they argued that she did not meaningfully assist in the theft of the laptop by encouraging others to steal it and telling one rioter to put on gloves. Her lawyers also argued that, while he might have “distasteful” views, she lacked the sophistication to understand the proceeding she was charged with obstructing.
On January 6, her lawyer said, Williams initially believed that she had breached the White House.
On Monday, prosecutor Samuel Dalke argued that Williams should be detained, in part because she faces a prison sentence of “multiple” years.
“It’s about to get real,” Dalke said.
Jackson agreed that Williams posed a flight risk and pointed to evidence — including her use of encrypted messaging apps — suggesting “she knew how to cover her tracks.”
“Her conduct was deliberate,” the judge said.
On January 6, Jackson added, “she was profane, she was obnoxious, and she was threatening.”
Jackson is set to sentence Williams on February 22.