WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — After calling a pair of character witnesses, the defense called Richard Barnett to the stand in his January 6 insurrection trial.
Barnett, 62, of Gravette, is facing eight federal charges for his participation in the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The defense called three final witnesses on January 19: a longtime friend of Barnett’s, then his wife and finally the defendant.
In his time testifying, Barnett addressed the jury directly and tried to differentiate between himself and his “BigO Barnett persona,” noting that he is a “loving father” whereas “BigO can be a loudmouth at rallies.”
“Heck yeah,” he responded when asked if he had any regrets from that day. He said that the note he left behind for former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was crass, and he added that he would apologize to her if she was there.
He also spoke about the combination walking stick/stun gun that he purchased for the event and cited a previous back injury as his need for assistance in walking around Washington. He opted for the model with a built-in taser because he had been watching Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests and he “saw stories of ANTIFA attacking people.”
He added that the device stopped working on January 5 after he and some friends were using it and it was not functional on January 6.
Barnett described the atmosphere at the Capitol as peaceful when he arrived, but things changed shortly after that.
“It flipped my world upside down,” he said, describing the way police were interacting with the crowd. He said that the officers in riot gear were like “stormtroopers” as they pushed through the rioters.
Barnett added that he helped an officer who “looked distressed.” He described hearing the crowd yell “push” and said that he was pushed into the Capitol, separated from his friends and knocked over at one point. He then began looking for a bathroom inside.
The government then used Barnett’s own social media posting history against him during cross-examination. The defendant had trouble remembering everything he had said in the past. Regarding his professed love of the Constitution, the prosecution asked him if he knew what was in the 3rd Amendment.
He did not.
He said that he “mostly focuses on the first and the second amendments,” but that he is studying it further. When asked about a specific social media post that had a flyer seeking participants to occupy the Capitol, Barnett said that he “didn’t read it clearly” before posting it. He added that he intended it to mean occupying outside, not inside.
The government’s cross-examination will continue on January 20. Closing arguments will follow that.
In an afternoon filing, the defense submitted a motion asking for a definition of a “dangerous weapon” to be provided as part of jury instructions. The motion said that the court’s current jury instructions lacked a definition.
It included a direct quote from U.S. Sentencing Guidelines that included federal law’s definition of such a weapon.