WASHINGTON - The Lebanon, Maine, man charged in the Capitol unrest of Jan. 6 is requesting a change of venue because he cannot be guaranteed due process in Washington due to "significant prejudice" that is "prohibitive of a fair and impartial jury trial," according to his defense counsel.
In a 28-page brief Fitzsimon's public defender, Natasha Taylor-Smith, she argues that "detrimental pretrial publicity and community prejudice in Washington is so likely to have infected the jury pool that (it) must be presumed as tainted."
She also acknowledges Fitzsimon's case is purely political and a Washington jury "is the most politically prejudiced jury in the country."
Taylor-Smith laid bare the prejudicial ebb and flow inside the Beltway referring to President Biden, himself, who in a Jan. 26 speech referred to the crowd at the Capitol as a group of "thugs, insurrectionists, political extremists, and white supremacists."
She also notes in the brief that Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, referred to the people involved in the incident as "the white supremacist mob" and Nancy Pelosi went so far as to declare that "Donald Trump is an accessory to murder."
As a result Fitzsimons and his attorney are asking that the trial be moved to Maine, which Taylor-Smith argues "is not overrun by prejudiced D.C. politics."
Fitzsimons was arrested at his Gully Oven Road home in Lebanon on Feb. 4 and waived his right to detention and probable cause hearings in Portland on Feb. 11. He was then transferred to a Rhode Island Detention Center until late March when he was transferred again to the DC jail where he remains held without bail.
A 10-count indictment filed against Fitzsimons in February accuses the husband, father of one and former Hannaford butcher with obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds, act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings, two counts of civil disorder and two counts of inflicting bodily injury on certain officers.
Fizsimons pleaded not guilty on all charges during an April arraignment, which came more than 10 weeks after his arrest in Lebanon.
He was denied bail during his detention hearing on April 7 with Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia presiding.
During the hearing, however, Harvey questioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Puja Bhatia as to why no plea deal had been offered Fitzsimons.
"Why no plea deal, the government doesn't need more investigation for this case," Harvey said adding that Fitzsimons was not part of any organized violence like the Proud Boys or the Oath Takers.
"This is not a complex case," he added. "Three months in, no plea?"
Fitzsimons faces more than 40 years in jail if convicted on all counts.
No timeframe has been given for a judge to rule on the change of venue motion.