Georgia woman claims riot suspects treated unfairly in D.C. jail

A Georgia woman jailed in Washington, D.C., for storming the U.S. Capitol is claiming a blanket decision by jail officials to segregate accused insurrectionists from other prisoners is unfair to Trump supporters.

“Two different systems of justice ... cannot exist in a system of equal justice under law,” attorney Gregory Smith argued at a Wednesday hearing for suspect Lisa Marie Eisenhart in Washington. “That is what is happening here.”

Smith said the especially restrictive conditions could undermine the confidence in the court’s handling of Jan. 6 suspects in a district that voted 92.1% for Biden.

Federal prosecutors and jail officials said a decision was made to classify all Jan. 6 suspects as maximum security inmates and separate them from the rest of the inmates, in part, for their own protection, with lawyers arguing that the “notorious nature of the allegations against them” could make them a target for abuse by other inmates.

Approximately half of the roughly 300 suspects in the Capitol assault remain in jail, according to a recent report from CBS News, but it’s unclear how many of those are being housed in the Washington lockup.

Eisenhart, a 57-year-old nurse from Woodstock, is being held in solitary confinement, “with no social interactions whatsoever,” Smith said. The only time his client is allowed out of her cell is five hours a week when she is permitted exercise time in a larger cell, Smith said. Eisenhart is one of the few female suspects in the Capitol attack, and Smith said male suspects are at least allowed to interact with each other.

Eisenhart and her son, Eric Gavelek Munchel, were arrested a few days after the Capitol riot and face felony charges that could result in years in federal prison, if they are convicted. Eisenhart and Munchel are accused of participating in the mob that forced its way into the Capitol. Prosecutors have identified Munchel as the “zip-tie guy” who crawled through the Senate gallery in black tactical gear carrying handfuls of plastic wrist restraints.

Last month, D.C. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the pair to be held without bond, writing in a lengthy order that their alleged conduct “threatens the republic itself.”

In a brief filed with the court, D.C. officials said Lamberth had no authority to overrule jail officials’ decisions on how they manage prisoners and said Eisenhart’s constitutional rights were not being infringed.

“Defendant Eisenhart makes no allegation that her constitutional rights have been violated at all. She instead argues that her conditions of confinement are ‘unusual’ and ‘unacceptable,’” the D.C. Attorney General’s office wrote in the brief.

But Eisenhart’s constitutional rights were being violated by the “extraordinarily harsh” prison conditions, Smith said.

“Justice demands that she be taken out of solitary confinement under these circumstances,” he said. Alternately, Smith said his client could be moved to another facility outside of Washington where she could be placed in a less restrictive environment.

Georgia woman, mother of 'zip tie guy' arrested on federal charges after Capitol attack

icon to expand image

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goemaat defended the jail’s classification of all Jan. 6 suspects as requiring maximum security treatment because they all are accused of the same serious crime of attacking the Capitol and attempting to derail the certification of the presidential vote.

“The evidence in this case shows my client was not involved in any preplanning for this event,” Smith said. “Everybody was at the Capitol that day was an individual with different backgrounds and different levels of culpability.”

Prior to the pro-Trump uprising, Eisenhart spent 30 years as a nurse. She had no prior criminal history. Munchel worked as a bartender in Florida and Tennessee, most recently at a Nashville bar owned by country rocker Kid Rock. He had prior arrests, including two drug possession convictions and an alleged assault in 2013.