Mercer residents charged in Jan. 6 uprising seek to represent themselves

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Mercer County couple facing multiple felony charges for their actions during the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol building more than two years ago has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking that they be permitted to represent themselves at trial.

Donald Chilcoat and his wife, Shawndale, were arrested Aug. 11, 2022, and were charged in federal court with entering and remaining is a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, entering and remaining in the gallery of Congress, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, demonstrating or picketing in any Capitol building, and obstructing or impeding any official proceeding.

According to the FBI, the Celina residents were among thousands of people who had gathered in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day when the U.S. Congress was to formally certify the results of the 2020 presidential election which saw Joe Biden defeat incumbent Donald Trump.

A large crowd had gathered that day at the urging of Trump, who told supporters that the election was beset by fraud and the results should not be certified. Since that time, a number of court rulings have rejected those allegations. The Chilcoats were among rally participants who illegally entered the Capitol building to protest the election results on Jan. 6, according to the FBI.

Late last year the Chilcoats indicated they wanted to proceed without an attorney. A hearing was set for 10 a.m. Feb. 6 to go over the potential ramifications of that request.

Shawndale Chilcoat on Dec. 28 of last year also submitted a six-page filing to the court asking that the charges against her and her husband be dismissed.

“As an American citizen of Ohio I must say I have been completely baffled by these charges,” Chilcoat wrote. “We caused no harm or monetary damages, where is the crime? Who is the victim? In court on Aug. 11, 2022, when the judge asked the Toledo, Ohio prosecutor if there was a victim impact statement, she stated ‘in this case the United States Government is the victim.’ I am the government, how am I a victim to myself? How can an entity/corporation be a victim?” the motion stated in part.

Chilcoat continued, saying “I cannot and will not speak for everyone there but I will speak for myself. I have 90% of it on video and I’m sure the government has the other 10% …. We caused no harm and caused no monetary loss. For almost two years I thought I witnessed a ‘good guy psychological operation of patriotism’ on that day. …The charges against me and my husband are ridiculous.”

In her statement, Chilcoat also said her husband’s attorney asked him to tell prosecutors his story “so they could make us a deal. We have no interest in a deal but I would love to explain what we did that day. Everything we did that day is Constitutionally protected (and) I am requesting that all charges be dismissed and for you to allow two American citizens to get on with their lives. If not I will be ready for a public trial because unconstitutional legislative laws should not and cannot stand.”

According to court records the FBI took statements from several witnesses during its investigation of the Chilcoats. One witness pointed investigators to a Facebook post from a “Shawndale Morgan Chilcoat” that said: “OK so antifa is being blamed for breaking windows and storming congress. Um no, it was us I was with them and couldn’t be more proud. Please stop giving them credit and realize trumps (sic) side has crazies too and they should stew on that for awhile.”