For the third time in less than a month, federal prosecutors late Wednesday dismissed cases against a handful of defendants charged with felony rioting during President Trump’s Inauguration Day ceremony.
D.C. prosecutors dismissed eight cases against defendants with prejudice, meaning the government will not be allowed to refile charges at a later date. Prosecutors did not explain their reasoning in documents filed in D.C. Superior Court and later signed by Judge Robert E. Morin, the court’s chief judge.
Prosecutors dismissed the cases against Steven Backus, Edward Bickard, Mally Espaillat, Saline Golenberg, Alexa Grazio, Elizabeth Lagesse, Luke McGowan-Arnold and Breton Strasburger. At least six of the eight were scheduled to go to trial on June 25.
The Jan. 20, 2017, vandalism of downtown businesses stretched over 16 blocks, with many participants wearing black and covering their faces with masks or scarves as part of a disturbance called DisruptJ20. In all, 234 people were charged. So far, 21 defendants arrested in the protests have pleaded guilty before trial.
Prosecutors have dropped more than 150 cases — including 10 that were dismissed since May 31 after Morin found that the U.S. attorney’s office failed to turn over some video evidence to the defense.
Trials in December and earlier this month resulted in either acquittals or mistrials for 10 defendants. Prosecutors will decide next month if they plan to retry three defendants in cases where juries were unable to reach unanimous verdicts on all counts.
There are now 39 cases left scheduled for trials throughout the year.
Ellie Silverman contributed to this report.