Kansas City area Proud Boy who wielded ax handle at Capitol riot wants out of jail

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An Olathe Proud Boy incarcerated since his arrest in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is asking the court to reconsider its decision to detain him pending trial.

In a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, William Chrestman’s attorney argued that the Army veteran posed no safety risk and that prosecutors had no proof that he was part of any organized effort to breach the Capitol.

“In the materials already submitted by the government, and in materials provided to the defense in discovery, it is strikingly obvious there is no evidence that Mr. Chrestman plays any role in any concerted operation alleged to have been occurring that day,” said the motion, submitted by attorney Peter A. Cooper.

“There are no discussions of, nor is there any basis to believe or evidence suggesting that Mr. Chrestman was in Washington, D.C., or in the vicinity of Capitol Hill in any kind of ‘official’ capacity for any of the discussed protest groups or that he was performing any operational role.”

The Proud Boys have been at the forefront of the federal investigation into the insurrection. Authorities have arrested more than two dozen Proud Boys from around the country, including several in leadership positions, on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to conspiracy to assaulting a federal officer.

Chrestman was indicted Feb. 26 along with Christopher Kuehne of Olathe; Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs; Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner; and siblings Cory and Felicia Konold of Arizona on conspiracy charges and other offenses related to the riot.

William “Billy” Chrestman of Olathe (left to right), Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs, Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner and Christopher Kuehne of Olathe were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on conspiracy charges and other offenses.
William “Billy” Chrestman of Olathe (left to right), Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs, Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner and Christopher Kuehne of Olathe were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on conspiracy charges and other offenses.

Chrestman, an unemployed union sheet metal worker, also was charged with threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer and carrying a wooden ax handle while in the Capitol building and on the grounds.

All except Chrestman were released on a personal recognizance bond pending trial. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., in February reversed a Kansas judge’s decision to release Chrestman and ordered him to be held without bond until his trial. Prosecutors allege that Chrestman, 47, was a key player in the riot.

Chrestman’s motion argued that his co-defendants “have significantly more involvement in the events of 6 January leading to these allegations” and that the government did not establish a strong connection between him and the others.

The motion also said that several new factors have come to light that the court wasn’t previously aware of.

A workplace accident resulted in Chrestman suffering long-term chronic back pain, it said, and he wasn’t receiving the proper regimen of pain medications while incarcerated. The motion said Chrestman also was being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder and insomnia, and those conditions were now going untreated.

Chrestman was receiving disability and was under the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the motion said.

“His current detention status places him in danger of losing those significant benefits,” it said.

In addition to the health issues, the motion said, Chrestman has family obligations.

“The residence he shares with his common-law partner … and their six children is in danger of foreclosure, placing the whole nuclear family in jeopardy of homelessness,” it said.

Chrestman is not asking to be released “purely on personal recognizance,” according to the motion.

“We are realistic enough to realize there are many factors the Court must be concerned with and appreciate the manner in which the events of 6 January transpired and has formed the debate,” it said. “However, we are confident the Court can form a release plan involving some form of monitoring such that Mr. Chrestman is able to address his pressing personal/health concerns at the same time as allowing his actions to be monitored appropriately.”

A hearing date on Chrestman’s motion has not yet been set.

Co-defendant Kuehne also is awaiting a hearing. His attorney filed a motion last week asking for his case to be severed from the others, citing “highly inappropriate and prejudicial statements” that the Konolds’ attorney, Al Watkins, said in a May 18 Talking Points Memo article. The siblings retained the famed St. Louis attorney last month.

Watkins has been involved in a number of high-profile cases, including representing the ex-husband of the woman who accused then-Gov. Eric Greitens of blackmail and violent sexual misconduct in the scandal that led to his resignation in 2018.

His recent clients include Jacob Chansley, also known as the “QAnon Shaman,” who is charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the gun-toting St. Louis couple who confronted Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.

In the TPM article, Watkins talked about his Capitol cases, saying, “A lot of these defendants — and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they’re all f------ short-bus people. These are people with brain damage, they’re f------ retarded, they’re on the g------ spectrum.” He also said the defendants “were subjected to four-plus years of g------ propaganda the likes of which the world has not seen since f------ Hitler.”

Kuehne’s attorney, Marina Medvin, argued in the motion that Watkins’ “highly inflammatory and derogatory language directly impacts and prejudices Mr. Kuehne, rendering a trial with his co-defendants inherently unfair.”

Watkins’ statements, she said, “are as shockingly inculpatory as they are irredeemably insulting.”

“Unlike his co-defendants,” the motion said, “Mr. Kuehne is not willing to throw in the towel, nor to throw an entire political party under the bus through cheap ‘Nazi’ comparisons.”

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