WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 defendant, in opening arguments at his trial before a jury Wednesday, compared himself to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and said he liked that members of Congress were fearing for their lives during the Capitol attack.
Brandon Fellows was initially arrested 10 days after the Capitol riot in January 2021. He first faced misdemeanor charges but was later indicted on a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting.
Fellows had been held in pretrial custody since mid-2021. He was detained because, while he was on pretrial release in his Jan. 6 case, he called his probation officer’s mother and reportedly harassed a former girlfriend, in violation of a state protection order. In recent court filings, he called U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden corrupt and biased.
Jury selection took place Tuesday, and opening arguments began Wednesday, with Fellows representing himself before jurors.
Fellows told jurors that he believes Jan. 6 "was a beautiful day." He said he’s on the autism spectrum and had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, as well as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Fellows referred Elon Musk, calling the owner of the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, a "high-functioning person" he looked up to, and he said people with Asperger's "are more susceptible to manipulation." He told jurors that he would express beliefs they would find abhorrent.
“I truly do like the fact that those senators and congressman were in fear for their lives,” Fellows told jurors near the end of his roughly 19-minute opening statement, doubling down on statements he had made on social media in the wake of the riot.
Fellows compared his situation to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Kavanaugh, claiming that he, too, has faced false accusations. He said that he believed members of the public were convinced by "weak arguments" and argued that jurors should not "fall for the tricks of prosecutors."
He said jurors should understand why Kavanaugh was emotional and angry when spoke about the allegations against him during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was a nominee for the Supreme Court in 2018. He also indicated that he'll keep referring to Kavanaugh's situation during his trial.
“I think it’s important to keep in context what was happening in his life that could have brought those emotions out,” Fellows said of Kavanaugh’s response. Fellows went on to tell jurors that he thinks Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, had potential financial motivations to lie about her accusations.
“Even if you disagree with him, take into consideration what he was going through,” Fellows said as he compared himself to Kavanaugh. “His life was getting threatened, his family was getting threatened, his career was looking terrible. It was looking like maybe it was all done with, and his name was getting tarnished.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolina Nevin delivered a more somber opening statement that sought to defuse the “almost comedic” nature of Fellow’s actions during the riot.
Nevin showed jurors a photo of Fellows wearing a fake orange beard and a hat shaped like a knight’s helmet during the riot. Fellows went to the riot “dressed up as his version of a warrior,” Nevin said.
After he entered the Capitol through a broken window, Fellows made his way to the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, R-Ore., where he put his feet up on a table and smoked marijuana, Nevin said, showing jurors another photo of Fellows taken in the office.
Nevin also showed jurors excerpts from social media posts after the riot in which Fellows expressed pride in his actions and said he hoped members of Congress would “live in constant fear.”
“Those aren’t funny at all,” Nevin said.
About 1,100 people have been arrested in connection with Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and more than 300 have been sentenced to incarceration.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com