Attorney seeks competency evaluation of Mercer County woman charged in Capitol riot
A defense attorney is asking for a psychological evaluation of the Mercer County mother of eight charged in connection with the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capital.
In a response filed Monday in U.S. District Court, defense attorney Nicholas Smith says has concerns about his ability to “intelligibly communicate the law and trial risks” to Rachel Powell, who is currently scheduled to stand trial on November 15 on eight federal charges.
Attorney Smith is requesting a delay in the trial so Powell can undergo a competency evaluation before she decides whether she wants to enter a plea in the case or take the matter to trial.
Prosecutors are asking Judge Royce Lambert to schedule a conference with the attorneys to discuss the competency evaluation request and other trial issues.
Government attorneys say Powell carried an ice axe and a "large" wooden pole into the Capitol while Vice President Pence was in the building to take part in the process of certifying the results of the previous November's election.
Powell, the so-called "pink hat lady" and "bullhorn lady" was charged after authorities say videos showed her in the crowd of people storming the Capitol in support of Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud.
An affidavit says Powell was seen using the bullhorn to give instructions about the layout of the Capitol building and instructing others on how to "take this building."
The Sandy Lake woman faces trial on charges including obstruction, destruction of US property over $1,000, entering a restricted building or property with a dangerous weapon, entering a restricted building/property, and disorderly conduct.
Judge Lamberth recently ordered that Powell be confined to her home as she awaits trial, stipulating that she must first obtain permission from a Pretrial Services Officer to venture outside for work.
If she does leave her home, her whereabouts must be monitored through a GPS tracker.
The judge’s order came after the U.S. Attorney said Powell has violated the conditions of her release by first going to a brewery during her work hours and by leaving her residence during her home confinement hours.
In April of last year, Powell apologized to the judge after live streaming a video of herself wearing a mesh face mask in what prosecutors called a “mockery of her condition of release requiring her to wear a mask for community safety.”
More than 800 people have been charged in connection with the effort to stop congress from certifying Joseph Biden as the winner in the race for US President in 2020. Seven of those people are from the Valley.