The attorneys for ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer have requested a review of their client's detention order as he awaits trial in Washington in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol.
On Friday (March 19), U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui ordered the 53-year-old musician, who resides in in Edinburgh, Indiana, held without bail on six federal criminal charges related to his alleged involvement with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He ruled that while Schaffer wasn't a flight risk, he does pose a danger to the community.
Schaffer, who is being held in a Washington D.C. jail, appeared before Faruqui via teleconference.
A short time after the hearing, Schaffer's attorney Marc Victor filed a "motion to amend detention order," claiming that "the government failed to establish Mr. Schaffer's dangerous to the community by clear and convincing evidence."
Victor wrote: "Mr. Schaffer is 53 years old. He has no criminal convictions. He does not have a substance abuse or mental health issue. He has no history of violence and was not violent on January 6, 2021. He entered the capitol with pepper spray. He did not threaten anyone with or discharge the spray. He left the capitol after approximately sixty seconds and returned home to Indiana."
During yesterday's hearing, government lawyers presented exhibits consisting of a video interview Schaffer gave in November 2020 at a pro-Donald Trump rally expressing his political views and a video and still photos taken on January 6, showing him inside the U.S. Capitol holding "bear spray."
According to WUSA9, the judge cited Schaffer's comments in the video interview that "if somebody wants to bring violence, I think there's a lot of us here that are ready for it."
Schaffer's attorney argued his client's comments were taken out of context, and that he knows he used bad judgment on January 6 and wishes he had a "do-over." He pointed out that the guitarist has no prior record and insisted that he isn't a danger to the community. He also argued the musician was not responsible for the insurrection and was encouraged by former president Donald Trump.
"People have the right to believe the highest elected official," Victor said, according to Indiana Public Media. "My client is not responsible for what happened on January 6."
Schaffer's attorney admitted Schaffer "used bad judgment that day" by bringing "bear spray" into the Capitol, but insisted he was only intending to use it for protection.
Schaffer will appear in a status hearing next month.
Court documents show Schaffer was originally scheduled to appear before the court on Thursday, but was unable to due to processing at a D.C. jail.
Schaffer waived his preliminary hearing as well as his rights to an identity hearing and production of a warrant in late January in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, court documents state. He was then transported by a United States marshal to Washington, D.C. where government lawyers and Schaffer's legal team have mutually agreed to handle all proceedings.
Last month, a man resembling Schaffer was seen in security footage from the U.S. Capitol riot that the House impeachment managers obtained and submitted as evidence for former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. The clip in question, which was released by CNN on February 15, shows rioters charging through a breached entrance and engaging and pushing officers. Schaffer can be seen near the front of the mob, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a tactical vest and black leather fingerless tactical gloves, and pointing his finger while yelling at the officers.
Schaffer was photographed wearing an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" cap during the insurrection. The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an association of former law enforcement and military personnel dedicated to "support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." But the Anti-Defamation League describes it as "a large but loosely organized collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."
Schaffer was held in the Marion County Jail for nearly two months after surrendering to police on January 17. He made his first court appearance the following day.
Just hours after the insurrection, ICED EARTH fans recognized Schaffer in a photo released by federal investigators.
Schaffer is believed to be one of at least 400 people who are being investigated by FBI officials over their roles in the insurrection.
More than 250 criminal cases have been filed so far. Charges include unauthorized access, theft, damage to government property and assault on law enforcement officers.