Anderson resident Derek Gunby will go to trial Dec. 12 for charges connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after he rejected a prosecutor’s plea agreement offer to plead guilty to reduced charges.
U.S. Judge Paul Friedman set the December trial date and blocked off four days for a jury trial that month during a hearing in Washington Thursday.
Friedman told Gunby he could still change his mind and enter a guilty plea. And Gunby can choose to have a bench trial, or trial by a judge alone, the judge said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Amore told the judge that if Gunby pleaded guilty, the government was prepared to drop three of the four charges against him and have him plead guilty only to picketing or demonstrating within a government building. It is a misdemeanor with a six-month maximum sentence.
The other three dropped charges are also misdemeanors and include disrupting government business and disorderly conduct in a government building.
If Gunby doesn’t plead, “the government is prepared to move forward with a trial,” Amore told the judge.
For now, Gunby’s attorney, John Pierce, of Los Angeles, said, “Mr. Gunby is not inclined to take a plea offer.”
Pierce asked for more time to review evidence and discuss options with Gunby.
Evidence in the case indicates Gunby was a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who believed Trump’s false claims that the November 2020 presidential election was stolen.
“They just tried to steal this election right in front of everybody’s face. And any of you, any of you, who are gonna sit there and look anybody in the face, and say that that didn’t happen, that this election fraud didn’t happen, that we’re making it up, that it’s unsubstantiated, you need to wake up,” Gunby posted on social media, according to government evidence in his case.
Former Trump Attorney General William Barr has said there was no evidence to support any fraud that could have changed the election for Trump. Some 60 lawsuits alleging election fraud have been thrown out of court because the lawyers who brought the lawsuits could not produce any evidence of substantial fraud.
Friedman set Aug. 1 as a date to meet again with the lawyers and Gunby to see if he has changed his mind about a trial.
Gunby is one of 16 South Carolinians and some 840 defendants from across the nation arrested by the FBI in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. Eight of South Carolinians have pleaded guilty.
So far, more than 300 defendants have pleaded guilty nationwide. Six have been found guilty at trials, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia.
Evidence against Gunby includes photos, surveillance video inside the Capitol and his own social media postings.
Gunby was arrested last June, and has been out on a $25,000 unsecured bond since.
In recent months, Gunby dropped his former lawyer and retained Pierce, a Los Angeles-area attorney who has a reputation as a pro-Trump attorney and who news reports say represents approximately 20 Jan. 6 defendants.