Two East Helena brothers who were allegedly among the first 10 rioters to enter the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 consented Monday to having their case heard in the District of Columbia, and they were detained pending further proceedings.
Joshua Calvin Hughes and Jerod Wade Hughes appeared in federal court in Great Falls on Monday for a 90-minute hearing before Magistrate Judge John Johnston and will be transferred to Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Marshal’s office, according to court documents.
They face charges for allegedly entering a restricted building, being on the Senate floor with the intent to disrupt the orderly conduct of official business, impeding a law enforcement officer, obstructing an official proceeding and damaging or aiding in damaging property of the United States.
A criminal complaint filed Jan. 28 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., said they violated federal laws by knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, had intent to impede or disrupt government businesses and impeded with law enforcement in the performance of their official duties.
The complaint includes a “statement of facts” by FBI Special Agent Alejandro M. Flores. A Jan. 28 arrest warrant redacted the Hughes brothers’ dates of birth, but does say Joshua was born in 1983 and Jerod was born in 1984. It also states their last known residence was East Helena.
Thousands of people went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the confirmation of Democrat Joe Biden as president. Some then stormed the building, temporarily disrupting Congress' certification of Biden over Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Overall, federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege. Trump, the first president in history to be impeached twice, is set to stand trial the week of Feb. 8 on a charge that he incited his supporters to storm Congress.
Their attorney, Palmer Hoovestal, said he was disappointed in the court's decision.
"These guys are extremely law-abiding people," he said, noting their grandfather once served as police chief in Helena and that they have other relatives in law enforcement.
He said they were called to go to Washington due to Trump's tweets and to be part of a peaceful march on the Capitol.
The complaint states both brothers were seen at the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They had both seen themselves on news coverage and reported in-person to the Helena Police Department on Jan. 11. An FBI agent met them shortly thereafter and said they were not under arrest and able to leave anytime, and that their interview was being recorded.
The brothers said they wanted an attorney present. They gave their contact information to the agent and were allowed to leave.
Flores said surveillance and social media footage confirms the Hughes brothers participated in the riot. He said they were among rioters who broke open windows and doors and forced their way into the Capitol building.
He noted they entered the Capitol building after windows were broken and Jerod Hughes, with the aid of another rioter, kicked a door until the lock broke so that others could enter.
The brothers then caught up with Douglas Austin Jensen, who allegedly had confronted Capitol police Officer Eugene Goodman, who repeatedly ordered the rioters to leave the building, the complaint states. The rioters advanced and the brothers allegedly remained part of the pack.
Goodman retreated up the stairs, the complaint states, and radioed twice for backup. The mob followed him and he positioned himself between the group and the Senate, which had not yet been evacuated.
“Realizing that he could not prevent the mob from storming the Senate floor by himself, Officer Goodman baited the rioters into continuing to follow him – luring them away from the Senate floor and into an adjacent hallway,” the complaint states.
The officer was joined by other law enforcement and they were able to de-escalate the situation and the rioters left the atrium, Flores said.
The Hughes brothers then went to the Senate floor, which had been evacuated.
“While on the Senate floor, Joshua Calvin Hughes, Jerod Wade Hughes, and other rioters sat in Senators’ chairs, opened Senators’ desks, and reviewed sensitive material stored herein,” the complaint states.
The complaint does not state how or why they left.
Hoovestal said the Hughes brothers had attended the Trump speech, had lunch at a taco shop, and then went to the Capitol. They got to the front of the line, entered through a window someone else broke, walked around inside the Capitol for 10-15 minutes and left. He said they were not destructive.
"They did not egg people on, they are not members of the Proud Boys," he said.
Hoovestal said they did not know Jensen, despite what the complaint implies.
"They would not know (Douglas) Austin Jensen from the man in the moon," he said, adding the brothers regret what happened.
"The biggest mistake of their lives was to crawl through that window," Hoovestal said.
Another Montana resident, Henry Phillip Muntzer, 52, of Dillon, has also been charged in participating in the riot. He was appointed a federal public defender ordered to report to the District of Columbia on Jan. 28, according to court documents.
Muntzer was charged with unlawful entry or disorderly conduct and for being in a restricted building or on restricted grounds. Officials said he posted on his Facebook page that he was at the Capitol and also did social media interviews saying he was in the building for about an hour.
In a Dec. 22 Facebook post, he offered to pay to help people fly from Montana to Washington, D.C. He also said he had a large group going and had rented a house for people to stay in.
This story contains information from the Associated Press.
Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.