Last Wednesday, a federal judge found Central Texas businessman Christopher Grider guilty on seven counts concerning his actions at the U.S. Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021, after a D.C. trial that started back on Dec. 12.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued the verdict against Grider, who had previously pleaded guilty to two of the nine of counts against him:
“Grider was a leader, not a follower, during the insurrection of January 6, 2021,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in an order issuing her verdict.
“At each key interval, Grider beckoned fellow rioters onward, all in an effort to disrupt the constitutionally-consecrated certification of the Presidential Election of 2020. Even more reprehensibly, he wielded a police officer’s helmet against officers themselves, turning shield into sword. For his efforts to further the insurrection, the Court finds Christopher Ray Grider GUILTY on Counts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8.”
The court scheduled a May 23 sentencing hearing for Grider, a co-owner of Kissing Tree Vineyards in Bruceville-Eddy. He will remain free on bond with an ankle monitor in the meantime. The maximum prison term allowed would be 39.5 years.
Grider’s attorney, Brent Mayr, said his client was disappointed in the judge’s decision, but he respects it, saying “Chris accepts (the guilty verdict)…He is at peace knowing he held back nothing from the judge.”
Mayr continued by saying that Grider did not come here (to Washington on Jan. 6) with the intent to do harm…He did not leave here proud of what took place.”
Kollar-Kotelly found Grider guilty of three felonies: civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of government property; and of four misdemeanors: disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.
The judge continued her statement by describing Grider’s actions on January 6:
“Grider offered two main theories as to his mental state,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote. “First, he claimed that he thought the events at the Capitol, up to and including his time in the Crypt were merely a continuation of then-President Trump’s rally and might feature addresses by then-President Trump, Senator Rafael E. Cruz of Texas, and others. Similarly, he claimed that his only purpose for being in the Capitol — other than protesting, evidently — was to watch historic events unfold. As such, he claimed that he was trying to enter the House Chamber because he thought it was the Senate Gallery and he intended to observe the proceedings. For a variety of reasons, the Court does not find these accounts credible. More generally, the Court did not find Grider’s testimony as to his mental state on January 6, 2021 credible.
Elsewhere in the ruling, Kollar-Kotelly refers to trial evidence showing Grider was up-close with rioters as they scuffled with police who had established a line in the Crypt, an area beneath the rotunda, in an effort to stop rioters from getting to the second floor of the Capitol. After he had watched the scuffles, “The mob, including Grider, shoves their way through the police line, breaking it.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia continued outlining the details about Grider’s time at the Capitol in a press release:
“With a crowd of rioters who had broken through a police line, he entered scaffolding set up on the Capitol’s northwest terrace, where he used a bike rack to climb to the terrace stairs, at one point, stopping to wave rioters toward the Capitol.
Once inside the Capitol, Grider found an electric utility box and pressed buttons as he yelled ‘Turn the power off! He then proceeded to the Crypt, where he was part of another group of rioters who pushed through a police line.”
After taking a picture of a map of the Capitol, and exclaiming, ‘We gotta get into the Chamber!,’ Grider proceeded to the hallway outside of the House Chamber, where he waved more rioters in. When this group of rioters had pushed through the police line that stood between the mob and the House Main Door, Grider stood with other rioters directly outside of the House Main Door, as they attempted to get inside the House Chamber.
He then ran from the main door to a barricaded doorway to the Speaker’s Lobby directly outside the House Chamber, where he watched members of Congress and staff evacuate on the other side.
Within seconds, Grider was observed backing away from the Speaker’s Lobby door as other individuals were screaming, ‘gun!’
Then, a police officer on the other side of the doorway fired a single, fatal shot at a woman as she started to climb through the broken window.”