Celina couple charged in Jan. 6 insurgency fail to appear for hearing

Sep. 13—WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Mercer County husband-and-wife duo charged for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 insurgency on the U.S. Capitol building failed to appear at a Sept. 5 status hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, although court records seem to show the couple was not entirely at fault.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had ruled in July that the hearing would by conducted electronically for Celina residents Donald and Shawndale Chilcoat via Zoom. During the interim, however, Shawndale Chilcoat — without the assistance or knowledge of her attorney — filed with the court a "motion to vacate" her case.

The judge, in light of that motion, on Sept. 1 issued a new order requiring that all parties appear at the Sept. 5 status conference in person.

According to court documents, the Chilcoats were not made aware of the judge's order. Donald Chilcoat's attorney told the court he was "unable to connect" with his client regarding the change; Shawndale Chilcoat's lawyer made a similar claim.

Kollar-Kotelly said bench warrants would be issued for both defendants in light of their failure to appear. On Sept. 8 the judge issued a new order requiring the Chilcoats to appear in person at an Oct. 5 hearing in federal district court.

Motion 'difficult to follow'

Kollar-Kotelly, in a ruling dated Sept. 1, rejected Shawndale Chilcoat's motion seeking to vacate her indictment on the grounds that the federal district court does have jurisdiction in her case.

Kollar-Kotelly called Chilcoat's motion "difficult to follow" and factually in error in its arguments.

The judge noted that Chilcoat in her motion "repeatedly states that she does not consent to the proceedings against her. She states the charges against her are 'unconstitutional' and that 'she did not do anything.' It is not entirely clear what the defendant is asking the court to vacate."

Among the insurgents

According to the FBI, the Chilcoats were among thousands of protesters who 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.

The Chilcoats were arrested Aug. 11, 2022, and charged in federal court with entering and remaining in 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.

The couple rejected unspecified plea offers made by federal prosecutors during a July 28 hearing.