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Central Pa. woman accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop on Jan. 6 has motion to move trial denied

The lawyer for Riley Williams asked for her upcoming trial to be moved from Washington D.C. to Harrisburg, arguing it would be easier to find an impartial jury here.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from Jan. 21, 2021.

A federal judge issued another ruling against a Central Pennsylvania woman accused of stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

Attorneys for Riley Williams, 23, formerly of Harrisburg, filed a motion to have her trial moved out of Washington D.C., so that she could be tried in front of an "impartial jury," according to court records.

Williams' attorney, Lori Ulrich, argued that the trial should be held in Harrisburg because Williams lives there, defense witnesses are in Central Pennsylvania, and that Harrisburg is "not overly inconvenient for government counsel or witness" because of its relatively close location to the nation's capitol.

Ulrich also argued that it would be more likely to find an impartial jury in Harrisburg because "the media exposure has been more limited" in Central Pennsylvania and that the community was not directly prejudiced by the impact of the Jan. 6 riot. Potential jurors in Central PA did not experience street closures, curfews, or the presence of the National Guard in the aftermath of the attack, Ulrich said in her motion.

"Harrisburg residents have not been warned that domestic terrorists are threatening their hometown, nor is it overrun by D.C. politics," Ulrich said in her motion.

Ulrich also called for the trail court to provide a questionnaire to potential jurors to help screen out bias in the jury pool, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied the motion, noting that Williams had not raised any concerns that could not be addressed through voir dire, a legal term for the jury selection process.

In her ruling, Jackson noted that, so far, no Jan. 6 defendants have had their trials moved prior to the voir dire. She called the jury selection process the proper way to determine whether it's possible to select a fair and impartial jury in Washington D.C.

Jackson also wrote in her ruling that Williams appeared to "know little about (Washington D.C.) or its people, and relies on...mere assumptions and generalizations about the jury pool."

Jackson's ruling is the second time this summer that a pre-trial motion from Williams' defense team was denied by Jackson.

In July, Jackson denied Williams' request for changes to the terms of her pre-trial release. Williams had requested to have her ankle monitor and house arrest lifted prior to trial.

Williams is charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, theft of government property, entering and remaining inside a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building for her alleged conduct on Jan. 6.

She allegedly joined the mob that forced its way into the U.S. Capitol, and stole Pelosi's laptop while inside. She later disposed of the laptop, according to investigators.

Investigators with the FBI found photos and videos of a woman that appears to be Williams encouraging other members of the crowd to break into the Capitol building and directing people while inside. 

Investigators also say they found social media posts, reportedly made by Williams, in which she claims to have stolen Pelosi's laptop.

Williams, who now lives under house arrest in Mechanicsburg, was arrested on Jan. 18 and indicted on charges relating to the theft of the laptop on Oct. 6.

After talks between her attorney and prosecutors about a potential plea deal broke down, Williams was scheduled to stand trial sometime next year.

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