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Barber hearing on Capitol charges continued

A status hearing was continued Thursday for a former Parkersburg City Councilman charged from the breach of the U.S. Capitol in January.

Eric Barber, 42, was charged in March with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; and theft. He entered a plea of not guilty.

Barber had been scheduled to appear Thursday via video conference before U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Christopher Cooper, but federal court records indicate the hearing was canceled and another one scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 17. The order says the time between Thursday and the new date will not be included in the calculation for Barber’s right to a speedy trial.

It was not immediately clear why the hearing was rescheduled. Calls to the public defender representing Barber and an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case were not returned Thursday.

A memorandum filed by the prosecution on July 13 references the “unprecedented overlapping and interlocking discovery obligations” the government must meet after thousands of individuals entered the Capitol and Capitol grounds without authorization on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Breach will be the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,” it said, noting that includes thousands of hours of footage from closed-circuit television cameras and law enforcement body cameras and location history data for thousands of electronic devices.

While explaining the government’s approach to cataloguing and distributing discovery materials, the memo notes that “substantial” discovery materials have already been provided to Barber’s defense, including “evidence seized from the defendant’s home that was stolen from the C-SPAN media station located in Statuary Hall.”

Barber’s theft charge comes from an allegation that he took a portable power station from C-SPAN’s media station after entering the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a phone interview that day, he said he had gone to the nation’s capital to participate in a rally where then-President Donald Trump spoke and made allegations of widespread fraud that changed the outcome of the election. Barber said at the time he walked to the Capitol with others but did not go inside.

But a criminal complaint filed by the FBI says photos and security video show Barber inside the Capitol.

Barber remains out on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

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