Titusville Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson acquitted on some charges in Jan. 6 Capitol riot case, convicted on others

Titusville Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson, on trial with Stewart Rhodes, the far-right militia group's founder, was acquitted in federal court Tuesday of the rare charge of seditious conspiracy for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol assault.

However, a jury of seven men and five women, found Harrelson along with Rhodes and three other co-defendants in the case all guilty of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and other lesser charges.

While he was acquitted of the most serious charge, Harrelson, 42, still faces substantial prison time. Two of the charges he was convicted of carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison, while the third carries a maximum sentence of six years.

Oath Keeper: Titusville Oath Keeper's role in Jan. 6 riots revealed in court documents

 Charges of sedition: Titusville man and Oath Keepers' founder face new charges of sedition for Capitol riot role

The FBI alleges these two Florida men, Kenneth Harrelson (left) of Titusville, and Graydon Young of Englewood, are among more than a dozen members of the Oath Keepers who participated in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The FBI states the Oath Keepers, a loosely organized paramilitary group, conspired in advance to plan their participation in the riot.

Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, another Florida Oath Keeper accused by prosecutors of helping to organize a plot to stop the transfer of presidential power to President Joe Biden, were both convicted of seditious conspiracy, the most serious charges leveled in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The decision was another victory for the U.S. Justice Department's efforts to hold Jan. 6 rioters accountable for their violent efforts to stop Congress from ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

As of Nov. 14, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported it had made over 900 arrests in connection with event. About 440 had pleaded guilty to various charges, and 29 were found guilty in contested trials.

In addition to obstruction, Harrelson also was convicted of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties and aiding and abetting the tampering with proceedings. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and destruction of property.

Harrelson had pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case. His attorney, Bradford Geyer, said Harrelson would appeal his convictions.

"While we are gratified that we were able to acquit Mr. Harrelson of the most serious charges, we look forward to appealing the remainder of the verdict with which we believe was reached in error.  We intend to file all appropriate appeals," Geyer wrote in an email to FLORIDA TODAY.

Harrelson remains in custody in Washington, where he has been held since being arrested in March 2021.

Geyer told FLORIDA TODAY in a phone interview Wednesday that Harrelson was "surviving; he's keeping a positive attitude." No sentencing date has been set, but Geyer said he expected it to come in three to four months.

Prosecutors argued that the Oath Keepers, led by Rhodes, had schemed and eventually carried out an assault on the U.S. Capitol Building with the intention of disrupting Congress by force.

Harrelson was alleged to be Meggs' right-hand man and a leader of the "ground team" that scaled the Capitol steps and eventually breached the east Rotunda doors, according to court documents.

Kenneth Harrelson (green circle) is identified in this markup of a screenshot contained in the probable cause affidavit for his arrest for conspiracy and other charges related to the Capitol Riot. (Department of Justice)
Kenneth Harrelson (green circle) is identified in this markup of a screenshot contained in the probable cause affidavit for his arrest for conspiracy and other charges related to the Capitol Riot. (Department of Justice)

The group was captured in a widely circulated photograph that showed some of its members, some wearing tactical gear, climbing the Capitol steps in a military-style "stack" formation.

Harrelson's attorney argued in court briefings that Harrelson had no part in planning any attack and was merely following after people he was assigned to escort as security detail to a sanctioned rally nearby when he entered the Capitol building.

Former President Donald Trump has said he would offer full pardons to anyone convicted in connection with the Jan. 6 riots if he is re-elected in 2024.

"I mean full pardons with an apology to many," Trump told conservative radio host Wendy Bell on Sep. 1. “It’s a disgrace what they’ve done to them. What they’ve done to these people is disgraceful."

USA TODAY's Ella Lee contributed to this report.

Eric Rogers is a watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Rogers at 321-242-3717 or esrogers@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter: @EricRogersFT.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Titusville Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson not guilty of sedition charge