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Accused Capitol Rioters From Iowa Continue To Fight Criminal Charges, Six Months After Insurrection

Demonstrators attempt to breach the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Brent Stirton / Getty Images
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators attempt to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. At least six Iowans are facing criminal charges for their alleged role in the attack.

Six months after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, at least six Iowans continue to fight criminal charges for their alleged role in the riot. According to court filings and their own social media posts, many of the accused were apparently taken in by baseless allegations of election fraud pushed by former President Donald Trump and dangerous conspiracy theories that have taken hold across the country.

The Iowans who traveled the 1,000 miles to Washington D.C. and allegedly joined the mob that stormed the Capitol came from some of the state’s small towns and its largest cities. The group includes a mother and son, a tech company vice president, the son of a former mayor and a QAnon adherent.

The attack on Jan. 6 was unprecedented, temporarily stalling the certification of the 2020 election and forcing the nation’s elected representatives to flee for their lives, some arming themselves with makeshift weapons, others removing their Congressional pins in the hopes that they wouldn’t be identified if the mob did find them.

Five deaths have been attributed to the attack, including the killings of a U.S. Capitol police officer and a Trump supporter who died after she was trampled by the mob.

One of the Iowans charged for their alleged role in the riot, Leo Kelly of Cedar Rapids, was back in court Tuesday, six months to the day since the deadly insurrection. The others accused include Doug Jensen of Des Moines, Daryl Johnson of St. Ansgar, Salvador Sandoval of Ankeny, Deborah Sandoval of Des Moines, and Kyle Young of Redfield.

So far, all the Iowans facing charges have pleaded not guilty, though court filings suggest that plea deals may be in the works for some.

Jensen is scheduled to appear in federal court on Thursday.

Detectives have used police officer body camera footage, security videos and social media posts to link the accused Iowans to the mob, using screenshots to place the alleged rioters inside the Capitol during the attack. The extensive reviews of photo and video evidence produced that day, much of it shot and posted by rioters themselves, is part of a sweeping federal investigation that’s unlike any other in U.S. history.

“I know, having reviewed countless warrants and complaints, that there is immense amount of video, whether it's body-worn camera video or surveillance video within the Capitol, showing the movement of people around the Capitol,” Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey said during Kelly’s hearing Tuesday. “Logistics of this case are perhaps unlike any other, in terms of volume.”

In the months since the riot, Iowa’s Republican members of Congress have voted against congressional inquiries that could reveal new information about the attack.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, was one of just a few dozen Republicans to vote for a proposed bipartisan commission in May, but then voted against the establishment of a House select committee last month.

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-West Des Moines, is the only member of Iowa’s federal delegation to consistently vote in support of the congressional inquiries into the insurrection.

IPR News Insurrection Politics
Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter