Tentative trial date for Central Texas business owner charged in Jan. 6 insurrection

Christopher Ray Grider, of Chilton, facing almost 40 years in prison
Christopher Grider was arrested on January 21, 2021 after he was named in the seven-count...
Christopher Grider was arrested on January 21, 2021 after he was named in the seven-count indictment.(KWTX)
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - As a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection begins public hearings, a federal judge has set a tentative trial date for the Central Texas vineyard owner who faces almost four decades in prison for his role in the riot.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the District of Columbia, on Wednesday set a Dec. 12 trial date for Christopher Ray Grider, charged June 1 in a nine-count, superseding indictment for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol following a rally at which former President Donald Trump challenged the group to “keep fighting.”

The judge made it clear at a hearing earlier this month that she wants a quick resolution to Grider’s case after Grider’s attorney, Brent Mayr, of Houston, told her that Grider rejected an initial plea offer from the government.

Mayr said Thursday the trial date is “tentative” and that the parties will discuss the trial setting and other issues at another status hearing Aug. 4.

Grider, 40, of Chilton, owner of Kissing Tree Vineyards in Bruceville-Eddy, has said he regrets entering the Capitol with hundreds of others but he remains adamant that he will not plead guilty to a felony, Mayr has said.

The superseding indictment charges Grider with three felonies and six misdemeanors and adds an additional six years to the previous maximum prison term of 33 ½ years he faced. He previously was charged with two felonies and five misdemeanor offenses.

Mayr told the judge at the hearing earlier this month that Grider might consider pleading guilty to misdemeanor counts. Mayr told KWTX that at least one of the felony charges is not “legally or factually sustainable.”

“This is more of the same,” Mayr said of the superseding indictment. “The government is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s just more of the same. We are not concerned one bit about these new charges because he is innocent of the majority of those charges.”

Grider can be seen on several Capitol surveillance cameras walking through hallways before he and others made their way to the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the House Chamber. Lawmakers, who were meeting to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, were forced to evacuate the building with their staffs and others.

Grider wore a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and a “Make America Great Again” cap. He is seen on video handing a hard hat to another man, who used it to break glass in the doorway after the other man had been punching the glass with his fist.

Seconds later, a Capitol police lieutenant shot and killed Ashli Babbit, who tried to climb through the doorway just a few yards from where Grider was standing.

The House committee is expected to hear testimony from two witnesses Thursday evening, including Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, whose injuries from the Jan. 6 insurrection have precluded her from returning to active duty.

Edwards suffered a concussion when she was knocked down and hit her head while rioters were pushing against a police barricade.

Grider is charged in the superseding indictment with an additional felony, civil disorder, which carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison. Count 2 charges him with obstruction of an official proceeding; Count 3 with destruction of government property; Count 4 with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and Count 5 with disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

Count 6 charges Grider with engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds; Count 7 with disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; Count 8 with act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings; and Count 9 with parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

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