By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday convicted a Confederate flag-toting man and his son of charges that they stormed the U.S. Capitol together to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden delivered the verdict from the bench after hearing two days of testimony without a jury for the trial of Laurel, Delaware, residents Kevin Seefried and his adult son, Hunter.
McFadden convicted both Kevin and Hunter Seefried of a felony count: obstruction of an official proceeding, the joint session of Congress for certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021.
The judge also convicted both men of misdemeanor charges that they engaged in disorderly conduct and illegally demonstrated inside the building. But he acquitted Hunter Seefried of other misdemeanor charges for clearing a shard of glass from a broken window at the Capitol.
Both men will remain free pending separate sentencing hearings in September.
McFadden, whom President Donald Trump nominated in 2017, presided over two previous bench trials for Capitol riot defendants. He acquitted one of all charges and partially acquitted another.
Widely published photographs showed Kevin Seefried carrying a Confederate battle flag inside the Capitol after he and Hunter Seefried, then 22, entered the building through a broken window.
McFadden rejected the defense argument that Kevin Seefried never intended to interfere with the congressional proceedings.
“I find that he knew what he was doing,” McFadden said.
The judge described Kevin Seefreid as the “prime mover” in their decision to go to Washington on Jan. 6. McFadden said Hunter Seefried’s guilty on the obstruction charge was a “closer question,” but the judge ultimately concluded that the son engaged in “aggravated conduct” that supported a conviction.
“Hunter Seefried showed a pattern of deception and minimization of his actions” when an FBI agent interviewed him after the riot, McFadden said.
FBI agents said they didn’t find any evidence linking Kevin Seefried or his son to any far-right extremist groups. Kevin Seefried told an agent that he didn’t view the Confederate flag as a symbol of racist hate.
The Seefrieds’ trial included the first public testimony of Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who has been lauded for his bravery during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by a mob of Trump supporters. Goodman led a group of rioters away from the Senate chamber as senators and then-Vice President Mike Pence were being evacuated. He also directed Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to turn around and head away from the mob.
Goodman encountered Kevin Seefried before the mob chased the officer up a set of stairs, a harrowing episode captured on video. The officer said the elder Seefried cursed at him and jabbed at him with the base end of his flagpole three or four times without making contact with him.
Neither defendant testified at their trial.