GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The path from North Carolina to right-wing extremist groups and the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, continues to become clearer.

Just this week we learned there are more than 1,100 members of one of those violent militias, the Oath Keepers, in North Carolina – including at least two state legislators – and a member from the Piedmont Triad is one of the 21 state residents indicted at the riots that attempted to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.

That would be Laura Steele, a former High Point police officer who lives in Thomasville. She is named in an eighth superseding indictment filed in June against a group of now eight (it had been seven) that 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)

There also are the Proud Boys, whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy. 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 850 people in 48 states who have been charged with crimes during the insurrection, based on a database maintained by USA TODAY. More than 400 have been sentenced, including some 129 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 promises hearings in the coming weeks.

There are six residents of the Piedmont Triad (including Donohoe and Steele) among the 21 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.

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.

Young was indicted separately in a superseding document that included his sister and the other Oath Keepers on six charges, but in June he pleaded guilty to two of them: conspiracy and obstruction of Congress. Those charges carry maximum penalties of 5 and 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines. He has not been sentenced.

She and the others appeared before Federal District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta in Washington on May 6, and a trial date hoped for this fall may be delayed because of the multiple defendants and the complexities of the court docket.

There were two of those 21 arrests of North Carolinians that occurred this year, after investigators went through miles of video and still images and linked faces with names. A couple of them are curious, with one linked to a time of a shooting death.

The Robinson family

Linwood Robinson (DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE)

Benjamin Robinson of Matthews, just outside Charlotte, was arrested in May but apparently has not been arraigned. And it’s strange how his name is the only one on the federal list of defendants, because he hardly is the only Robinson named in court documents.

Investigators say they identified a man named Linwood Robinson as being at the Capitol by matching video to a prior arrest photo and to Linwood Robinson’s cell phone records.

Benjamin Robinson is one of Linwood Robinson’s two sons – Linwood Alan Robinson II is the other – and the investigative reports say those three along with a daughter-in-law Brittany Nicole Robinson and an unnamed grandchild were observed inside the Capitol building.

The document says the video shows the Robinsons walking toward the Speaker’s Lobby in the Capitol and approaching the door to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. They are alleged to be among those closest to that door when officers guarding it were forced to retreat.

“Rioters in the front of the crowd broke the glass windows leading to the House,” the report says. “Multiple people warned the group, ‘he’s got a gun,’ or simply, ‘gun,’ referring to the officers on the other side of the glass-paned door.

The FBI circled five people inside the Capitol it says are the Robinsons. (DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE)

That’s where Benjamin Scott Robinson was identified as using his body and foot to pound the door at the time a rioter, “later identified in news reports as Ashli Babbitt,” was climbing up and through the broken window.”

That’s when a shot was fired, and “all five Robinson family members left the area and exited the building together through the southeast doors.” Babbitt was killed in that shooting, and the officer was exonerated.

The charging document says all five Robinsons were unlawfully in a restricted building, impeding an official function, disrupting the orderly transfer of power and a variety of other offenses typical to these charges.

The complaint lists four criminal charges against the four adults. The grandchild is not named in any document. There has been no indictment or arraignment noted in the file, and there has been no update since the arrest on May 20.

The Beddingfield case

Video also led to the charges against Matthew Jason Beddingfield, 20, of Smithfield, who was arrested on Feb. 8 and charged with multiple counts involving being in the Capitol and having a weapon.

A 28-page statement of findings by investigators submitted on Feb. 2 includes charges that Beddingfield was one of the intruders at the Capitol who attempted to breach the Senate Wing of the Capitol.

An exhibit from the FBI report. (DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE)

The report says that Beddingfield was at the forefront of the group and that he “appears to use his metal flagpole to strike or attempt to strike law enforcement officers.”

The report includes dozens of images of Beddingfield inside and outside the Capitol, and investigators verified his identity because he was on probation from a criminal case in North Carolina.

His probation officer from the NC Department of Public Safety identified him in seven separate images in the report.

He is charged with obstructing or interfering with a fire or law enforcement officer carrying out duties, carrying a deadly weapon while entering a restricted building, carrying a deadly weapon while trying to obstruct an official proceeding, carrying a deadly weapon while engaging in an act of physical violence and engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct, which includes impeding passage, engaging in physical violence and parading/demonstrating/picketing on the Capitol grounds.

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: No update since Jan. 11.

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: No update since Dec. 28

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