A top attorney for the Oath Keepers, who allegedly helped plan the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol, before destroying evidence relevant to the criminal investigation into the riot, is not mentally competent to stand trial next month, according to a D.C. federal judge's order Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, in an order that followed a hearing Friday, postponed Kellye SoRelle's case, noting that both parties' medical experts concluded that she is mentally incompetent to stand trial, and ordered that she be hospitalized for mental health treatment.
"The court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that [SoRelle] is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering her mentally incompetent, to the extent that she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defense," Judge Mehta said.
But the judge did conclude that "there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future she will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward," according to the order.
SoRelle was arrested in Junction, Texas, in September, after a D.C. federal grand jury returned a brief indictment accusing her of conspiring to plan the Jan. 6 riot as early as December 2020, interrupting the certification of the Electoral College vote and advising others on Jan. 7 to "withhold records, documents and other objects" and "alter, destroy, mutilate, and conceal objects with the intent to impair" the grand jury investigation into the Capitol attack.
SoRelle served as general counsel for the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group accused of being one of the architects of the Capitol riot.
Many of the group's members have been charged and convicted in D.C. federal court on allegations that they led a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters into the halls of Congress in an attempt to halt the Electoral College tally that would formally name Joe Biden the next president.
The group's founder, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced in May to 18 years in federal prison after being convicted in November on a rarely used seditious conspiracy charge and two counts of obstruction of an official proceeding related to his role in the Capitol insurrection.
Prosecutors said Rhodes, a graduate of Yale Law School and a former U.S. Army paratrooper, conspired with regional Oath Keeper leaders to attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power by traveling to Washington, D.C., and taking up arms at his direction.
SoRelle, who has been in a romantic relationship with Rhodes, was charged with four counts: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and obstruction of justice.
The charges collectively, if stacked, would amount to a maximum sentence of 61 years.
SoRelle, who has her own law office in Granbury, Texas, is affiliated with Lawyers for Trump, a group formed in July 2020 to provide legal support to Trump's campaign and worked on unsuccessful legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election results.
SoRelle's case was joined with two other defendants — U.S. Marine Corps veteran Donovan Crowl and Broadway actor James Beeks, also known as James Justis — for a trial set to begin July 10, according to court records.
Crowl and Beeks are accused of participating in the planning of the attack on the Capitol, as well as participating in the riot, according to the eighth superseding indictment filed June 2022.
Prosecutors said Crowl and Beeks were among the Oath Keepers members who marched up the east steps of the Capitol outside of the rotunda doors, joining a mob of people who attacked the Capitol Police officers guarding the entrance.
Crowl and Beeks are charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering a restricted building or grounds and civil disorder and aiding and abetting, the indictment states.
The trial is still set to move forward for Crowl and Beeks, court records show.
A representative for the government declined to comment Tuesday. Counsel for SoRelle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The government is represented by Kathryn L. Rakoczy, Troy A. Edwards Jr., Alexandra Hughes and Jeffrey S. Nestler of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.
SoRelle is represented by Horatio Aldredge IV of the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Western District of Texas.
The case is USA v. Kellye SoRelle, case number 1:22-cr-00290, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.