Attorney for Rochester man charged in Capitol riot in court: ‘Keeping him locked up is a Constitutional violation’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A local Rochester man accused of being in the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 is back in jail tonight.

Dominic Pezzola is charged with some of the most serious crimes from that day, including conspiracy and assaulting police. News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean listened in on the hearing, and he also spoke to one of the top reporters following the case. Scott MacFarlane from NBC Washington explains why Pezzola and his attorneys want him released.

“Among the things he’s arguing is that being in jail limits his ability to get access to the evidence in his case and to his lawyer because the jail is not as accessible as if he were in his home,” MacFarlane said.

In court, which Brean joined remotely, Pezzola’s lawyer Steven Metcalf said, “If I‘m going to have this man open up to me on this case, it’s not on one of those phones in the DC jail. I don’t trust that system.”

“Even if defense were to be able to show a Constitutional violation in the way he’s being detained, the remedy wouldn’t be to release him the remedy would be to remedy the Constitutional violations," Federal Judge Timothy Kelly said.

In one of the most recognized video clips from the assault, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Pezzola used a stolen police riot shield and smashed a window to gain entry into the Capitol.

“Dominic Pezzola is a high-profile defendant,” MacFarlane said. “He’s not accused of being one of the lower tier, unlawfully on the ground, not hurting anyone, not hurting anything. He’s not a low-tier case. He’s a high tier case and that’s the tier where we see defendants being held pre-trial.”

Pezzola’s lawyers say keeping their client locked up is a Constitutional violation. They argue he can’t help with his defense when he’s locked up and being in the D.C. jail is a human rights violation.

Pezzola is one of about five dozen January 6 defendants still in jail.

The U.S. Attorney’s office promised to release several new video clips of Pezzola. They have not been shared yet. Pezzola’s case returns to court Friday morning. If he is released, his lawyer said he would live with his wife at their home in Rochester.