WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – One of the Triad’s most prominent defendants for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has asked for relief in her pretrial incarceration.

Laura Steele, a former High Point police officer who lives in Thomasville, asked to be released from curfew and to be allowed to await her prosecution without restriction.

Steele faces six counts listed in an eighth superseding indictment filed in June against a group of now eight who are alleged to have assisted Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, in planning to disrupt that lawful transfer of power in Washington.

Surveillance image allegedly shows Laura Steele in the U.S. Capitol.
A surveillance image allegedly shows Laura Steele in the U.S. Capitol. (DOJ)

In a motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Steele’s attorney, Peter A. Cooper of Washington, asked the court to release Steele on her own recognizance and end the curfew under which she had been living since September.

The request outlines how Steele on March 24, 2021, had been ordered to home confinement with GPS monitoring, how in September the court removed that confinement but required her to meet curfew from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Stewart Rhodes
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, is on trial for seditious conspiracy for Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Cooper writes in his motion that he had talked to John Campbell, Steele’s pretrial supervision officer, and that Campbell had told him that “Ms. Steele has remained in compliance with all terms and conditions of her release. I would have no objections to the electronic monitoring condition of her supervision being removed.”

Cooper says in his motion that Steele “has not incurred a single violation of her conditions. The fact that she has been so perfect on release would suggest that the conditions as currently set constitute a level of supervision not necessary to address the Court’s concerns.”

He says that limiting her physical and electronic contact “with other individuals connected to the events underlying these matters or accessing the internet through the use of electronic devices, both of which we suggest are of greater import than her contemporaneous physical location, and both of which would be possible whether on curfew or not.”

Next hearing in January

Prosecutors said they are on track for trial for Steele and her codefendants on Feb. 1, but U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said a trial of eight defendants would be a logistical challenge because of all the attorneys, equipment and other resources needed for trial.

He again mentioned possibly splitting into two trials, and set a status conference for 3 p.m. on Jan. 6, but he advised all attorneys to be ready for Feb. 1. 

Prosecutors opposed the bail adjustment for Steele and requested mental health treatment for reasons that were unclear. Mehta said he will review the motion and rule.

Militia groups involved

Rhodes and his codefendants from the Oath Keepers are on trial in Washington for seditious conspiracy. Steele is one of more than 1,100 members of Oath Keepers in North Carolina – including at least two state legislators – and there also are the Proud Boys, another group of right-wing extremists. One of that group’s state leaders, Charles Donohoe of Kernersville, pleaded guilty to charges earlier this year.

Charles Donohoe
Charles Donohoe

They are just part of the more than 925 people in 48 states who have been charged with crimes during the insurrection, based on a database maintained by USA TODAY. More than 450 have pleaded guilty and some 300 have been sentenced, some to prison terms.

This is all because supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed into the U.S. Capitol and drove members of Congress into hiding in a violent bid to disrupt the certification of a lawful presidential election of Joe Biden and keep Trump in power.

There were hundreds of injuries to law enforcement officers, much destruction of property, threats on the life of Vice President Mike Pence and others and, ultimately, seven lives were lost during or after the insurrection. There also have been all those legal proceedings.

A House Select Committee continues to investigate and has subpoenaed Trump to testify in coming weeks.

There are six residents of the Piedmont Triad (including Donohoe and Steele) among the 24 defendants from North Carolina. Matthew Mark Wood of Reidsville pleaded guilty on May 27 and awaits sentencing on three charges, and Virginia Spencer of Pilot Mountain – originally charged with her husband, Chris Spencer – and Anthony Joseph Sirica of Winston-Salem pleaded guilty and have completed their sentences. Chris Spencer’s charges remain in process.

Aiden Bilyard, 20, of Cary last week pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon, a release from the U.S. Department of Justice stated.

Another defendant, Bradley Stuart Bennett of Charlotte, was in court Friday as well, and more motions hearings were scheduled for the next two months.

The Steele case

Steele is named in seven of nine counts – up from eight – in the 35 pages of the new indictment, which describe how Rhodes and certain regional leaders recruited members, including Steele, to travel to Washington. They are alleged to have worn paramilitary clothing and Oath Keepers identification as they overpowered guards and invaded the Capitol through the doors to the rotunda, court documents say.

Steele’s brother, Graydon Young of Englewood, Florida, is among several named in the document but not indicted. Steele is the only defendant in the eighth charge, which describes how she and Young on Jan. 7 allegedly used a backyard burn pit to destroy evidence of the attack, including their clothing.

The Jan. 6 cases from North Carolina

Stephen Maury Baker

FROM: Garner

ARRESTED: Feb. 1, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty to two charges).

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on May 10, 2022, to:

  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCE: 24 months of probation after 9 days of intermittent confinement (3 consecutive weekends) and $500 restitution.

Matthew Jason Beddingfield

FROM: Smithfield

ARRESTED: Feb. 8, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Civil disorder
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Impeding passage through Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Feb. 8

Bradley Stuart Bennett

FROM: Charlotte

ARRESTED: April 12, 2021. INDICTED: April 21, 2021. ARRAIGNED: Pleaded not guilty. ARRAIGNED: April 29, 2021 (pleaded not guilty). REINDICTED ON TRUE BILL: Jan. 1, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building
  • Obstruction of justice/official proceeding

STATUS: There was a status hearing on Friday, but its unclear what the next steps will be.

Aiden Bilyard

FROM: Raleigh

ARRESTED: Nov. 22, 2001

CHARGES: Charged on eight counts related to being in the Capitol and wielding a dangerous weapon, including:

  • Civil disorder
  • Obstruction of justice/official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Pleaded guilty on Oct. 20 to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon. Awaits sentencing.

Lewis Easton Cantwell

FROM: Asheville

INDICTED: Feb. 5, 2021. ARRESTED: Feb. 18, 2021.

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on March 24, 2022, to Count 1 of six original charges:

  • Obstructing, impeding or interfering with law enforcement during commission of civil disorder and aiding and abetting.

SENTENCING: He faces 6 months in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $2,500. The file has not been updated since that plea was entered.

Charles Donohoe

FROM: Kernersville

ARRESTED: March 17, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 6, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 7, 2022.

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on April 8, 2022, to two of six original charges:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers

STATUS: Donohoe was state president of Proud Boys and was affiliated with five members charged with seditious conspiracy. No sentencing date is set. He faces up to 8 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The judge has said jail time is likely.

Edward George Jr.

FROM: Fayetteville

ARRESTED: July 24, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Superseding indictment of 9 charges in July 2021

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building
  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers
  • Theft of government property, aiding and abetting

STATUS: Status conference set for Oct. 1 but no update in file since August 2021.

Joseph David Gietzen

FROM: Sanford

INDICTED: April 1, 2022. ARRESTED: May 11, 2022.

CHARGES: He is shown in the court filings as struggling with police outside the Capitol. In one video, the filing says, “an officer winds up surrounded by members of the crowd and GIETZEN appears to grab the officer by the throat or face mask.” He later is seen holding a long pole and seen to “hit the officer next to him with the pole, striking him in the shoulder between his protective gear.” He also is identified, the report says, as being in the front of the throng and extending the poll as they attempt to get past law enforcement officers.

  • Civil disorder aiding and abetting
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, 2 counts
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, using a dangerous weapon
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds
  • Acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings

STATUS: No update since May 11.

Tate James Grant

FROM: Cary

ARRESTED: Oct. 14, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Dec. 15, 2021

CHARGES: The charging document says that video images show Grant inside the Senate offices.

  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol building
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Dec. 20, 2021.

Johnny Harris

FROM: Shelby

ARRESTED: March 18, 2021. ARRAIGNED: May 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty).

CHARGES:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
  • Knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions
  • Engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol buildings or grounds
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Remains on personal recognizance. No update since a status hearing on Oct. 14, 2021.

Ethan Stephen Horn

FROM: Raleigh

ARRESTED: April 9, 2021. CHARGED: April 13, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty)

CHARGES:

  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Remains on personal recognizance. A hearing was scheduled for Oct.14, but there has been no update since September 2021.

James Little

FROM: Claremont

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty to Count 4 of five original charges: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: March 21, 2022, to 60 days in jail to be followed by 36 months of probation and $500 restitution.

Phillip James Mault

FROM: Fort Bragg

CHARGES:

SENTENCED: July 15 to 44 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release and $2,000 restitution.

Benjamin Robinson

FROM: Matthews

ARRESTED: May 20, 2022

CHARGES: Investigators say they identified a man named Linwood Robinson by matching video to a prior arrest photo and his cell phone records. Benjamin Robinson is one of Linwood Robinson’s two sons (with Linwood Alan Robinson II, a daughter-in-law (Brittany Nicole Robinson) and an unnamed grandchild who were observed inside the Capitol building. The report says they were unlawfully on the grounds and engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct. It’s unclear why the complaint lists only one family member.

  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since the arrest.

Anthony Joseph Scirica

FROM: Winston-Salem

ARRESTED: June 16, 2021. CHARGED: July 8, 2021

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty to one of four original charges: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: Jan. 20, 2022, to 15 days of incarceration, $500 fine and $500 restitution.

Grayson Sherrill

FROM: Cherryville

ARRESTED: March 1, 2001. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Dec. 16, 2021

CHARGES:

  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, using a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, with deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: His charges were separated from original indictment that included Elliot Bishal and Elisa Irizarry. No update since Jan. 3, 2022

Christopher Raphael (Chris) Spencer (indicted with Virginia Marie Spencer)

FROM: Winston-Salem

ARRESTED: Jan. 19, 2021. CHARGED: Jan. 23, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 10, 2021. ARRAIGNMENT: Pleaded not guilty to all counts on March 31, 2021.

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Aug. 4, 2021, following status conference

Virginia Marie (Jenny) Spencer

Virginia Maria “Jenny” Spencer of Pilot Mountain (DOJ)

FROM: Durham

ARRESTED: Feb. 8, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 10, 2021. ARRAIGNMENT: Pleaded not guilty to all counts on March 31, 2021.

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty Sept. 9, 2021, to one of five original counts: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: Jan. 19, 2022, to 90 days incarceration, $500 restitution

Laura Steele

FROM: Thomasville

ARRESTED: Feb. 17, 2021. CHARGED: March 12, 2021. EIGHTH SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: June 22, 2022

CHARGES: She is one of eight defendants from the Oath Keepers and is named in seven of nine charges.

  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties
  • Destruction of government property and aiding and abetting
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Civil disorder and aiding and abetting
  • Tampering with documents and proceedings and aiding and abetting (she’s the only one of several charged with this). Burned and destroyed evidence in involvement in the attack

STATUS: Trial date has not been set, was delayed from October.

Tata Aileen Stottlemyer

FROM: Conover

AKA: Tara Aileen Shalvey, charged with Dale Jeremiah “DJ” Shalvey

ARRESTED: Sept. 14, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Feb. 2, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining on the floor of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Feb. 16.

Mark Matthew Wood

FROM:  Reidsville

ARRESTED: March 5, 2021. INDICTED: MARCH 17, 2021. ARRAIGNED: March 23, 2021 (pleaded not guilty to six counts)

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on May 27, 2022, to:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building

SENTENCING: No date set