Oath Keepers attorney SoRelle found incompetent for trial in Jan. 6 cases

A federal judge on Friday found Kellye SoRelle — an attorney for the Oath Keepers and girlfriend of the the right-wing group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes — mentally incompetent to stand trial as scheduled next month on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

US District Judge Amit P. Mehta of DC postponed SoRelle’s trial indefinitely, finding — based on reports by defense and government medical experts — that she was suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering her unable to understand the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defense.

Mehta ordered the defendant to begin treatment near Junction, Tex., where she lives, while both sides searched for an inpatient hospital facility where she could be held for months to determine whether competence could be restored. The reports and the nature of SoRelle’s condition were not made public.

“We’ll continue to toll time [to trial] until we have an answer on competency,” Mehta said at a brief hearing Friday afternoon.

Assistant US Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy of DC and Assistant Federal Defender Horatio Aldredge of Austin warned that it could take months to find a suitable health facility. Defendants taken into custody by the US Bureau of Prisons for competence assessments often spend longer behind bars awaiting transport, bed space and review than they might serve for minor offenses if found guilty and sentenced. Both sides said they would see whether they could find a facility in Texas near SoRelle, who lives about two hours west of Austin and San Antonio.

SoRelle, 43, in September became one of the last members of the Oath Keepers to be charged. Rhodes and 14 other members and affiliates of the extremist group were convicted in trials in the fall and winter, including six found guilty of sinister conspiracy, or attempting to oppose federal authority by force, including the transfer of presidential power between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in January 2021.

SoRelle emerged as an intriguing figure in Rhodes’s trial as well as in last summer’s House Jan. 6 committee hearings. Rhodes said he had designated her as his liaison to the pro-Trump, GOP and “Stop the Steal” campaigns, and she became a point of contact with Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio. Rhodes also ordered followers to destroy evidence through SoRelle, according to court evidence.

In a July 2022 hearing, the House Jan. 6 committee played a snippet of SoRelle’s deposition with investigators earlier that year. She said that Trump political confidant Roger Stone, Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Stop the Steal coordinator Ali Alexander became “the center point” for Trump’s post-2020 election protests, leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that forced the evacuation of Congress as it met to certify the presidential election result.

SoRelle, a volunteer for Lawyers for Trump during the 2020 election, was charged with and has pleaded not guilty to four offenses: conspiracy, obstruction of a federal proceeding, tampering with documents and misdemeanor trespassing in a restricted building or grounds.

On the day SoRelle was arrested, Trump announced that he would issue full pardons and a government apology to the Capitol riot defendants if he ran for election in 2024 and won. By coincidence, Trump similarly spoke out in defense of Jan. 6 defendants in January at an Arizona rally days after Rhodes was indicted, attacking what he called the Justice Department’s “appalling persecution of political prisoners.”

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