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Former Broadway actor James Beeks acquitted of Jan. 6 charges

Washington —  A former Broadway actor and Jan. 6 defendant was acquitted of the two charges that remained against him after a federal judge on Wednesday ruled evidence did not prove he knowingly worked with the far-right Oath Keepers group to obstruct Congress during the Capitol breach, according to court records. 
James Beeks of Florida was arrested in 2021 during a stint in a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." He was later indicted on numerous felony counts. Prosecutors alleged at the time that Beeks paid for a one-year membership to the Oath Keepers and weeks later marched with other members of the group up the U.S. Capitol steps and into the building.
After first deciding to take their case to trial, Beeks and co-defendant Donovoan Crowl — a member of an Ohio militia — opted for a stipulated bench trial in which the defense and prosecutors would agree to a set of facts and comply with a judge's decision on the defendants' guilt. The pair were indicted on multiple charges, but the parties agreed last week that the bench trial would only decide two counts — conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and civil disorder. In exchange, the government dropped the remaining counts. 
Beeks was a five-time Broadway actor and television personality, according to the agreed-upon set of facts, and traveled to Washington, D.C., before Jan. 6, 2021, after seeing Oath Keepers messages posted online. After his arrest, he and other defendants worked to move their case outside of Washington, D.C., and Beeks ultimately severed ties with defense attornies to represent himself at trial. Attorney Greg Hunter was appointed "standby counsel" in the case to ensure proper representation. 
Federal Judge Amit Mehta, appointed to the bench by former President Obama, ruled Wednesday there was little evidence that Beeks — who is no longer a member of the Oath Keepers — actually planned ahead of Jan. 6 or was aware of the group's alleged conspiracy, according to WUSA Reporter Jordan Fischer. "I just can't get there based on this stipulated evidence," Mehta said, according to Fischer. 
However, Crowl was convicted of both counts after pleading not guilty, according to court records filed Wednesday.
Beeks is only the second Jan. 6 defendant to be completely acquitted at trial. Last year, a judge found Matthew Martin of Santa Fe, New Mexico, not guilty of multiple misdemeanor counts related to the Capitol breach at a bench trial. And a jury acquitted Michael Greene, another alleged member of the Oath Keepers, of most of the charges against him and was not able to return a verdict on another count that prosecutors said they would not bring back to court.
The stipulated bench trial for Beeks and Crowl came after Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and five codefendants including his top lieutenant, Kelly Meggs, were convicted of seditious conspiracy. In May, Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison. 
Crowl is scheduled to be sentenced in November.