Capitol riot defendant from Heber Springs wants probation terminated, in part so he can possess a weapon

Guilty of Jan. 6 charge, Heber Springs man cites health

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

A 78-year-old Heber Springs man who pleaded guilty to entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has once again asked that his probation be terminated early.

Robert Thomas Snow cited health problems and his need to possess a weapon for protection, according to a motion filed Tuesday in federal court in the District of Columbia.

"Mr. Snow's recovery from surgery, his need for two additional eye surgeries, and continually declining health at 78 years of age distinguishes him from the routine defendant seeking early termination," according to the filing from Snow's attorney, Christopher Macchiaroli.

"Additionally, Mr. Snow has received serious and viable threats, but cannot adequately protect himself in his home, where he has been increasingly confined due to his medical ailments, given the condition that he cannot possess a weapon as he has been licensed and trained to do," wrote Macchiaroli.

The "special conditions" of Snow's supervision include a "firearm restriction."

"You shall remove firearms, destructive devices, or other dangerous weapons from areas over which you have access or control until the term of your supervision expires," according to the document signed on July 8 by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly.

The judge denied Snow's previous request for early termination of probation in an order on Aug. 29. Snow didn't mention weapons or threats in his previous request.

"At this point Defendant has served only about six weeks of his one year term of probation," Kelly wrote in a minute order on Aug. 29. "And he does not even try to explain how terminating his probation now is appropriate under 18 U.S.C. § 3564(c) or case law applying the same. Thus, it is hereby ordered that Defendant's motion is denied without prejudice."

The statute cited by Kelly states that the court may "terminate a term of probation previously ordered and discharge the defendant at any time in the case of a misdemeanor ... if it is satisfied that such action is warranted by the conduct of the defendant and the interest of justice."

Snow pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of violating 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e)(2)(G): parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine.

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, temporarily stopping the joint session of Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory. Other people entered the Capitol that day as if to savor a historic moment.

According to his sentencing memorandum, Snow "did not break, damage, or steal any property; hurt, injure, accost, or threaten law enforcement (or anyone else); go into any private office space or proceed to the well of the House or the Senate. Mr. Snow was not involved in planning or leading any of the activities that the crowd was engaged in on January 6, 2021, nor was he associated with any of the groups reported to be responsible for aspects of what occurred that day."

On July 7, Kelly sentenced Snow to one year of probation, along with $500 restitution and 60 hours of community service. In that hearing, the judge told Snow he could move for early termination of probation after completing his community service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison B. Prout had recommended Snow be sentenced to 14 days' incarceration, three years' probation, payment of $500 in restitution and 60 hours of community service.

Macchiaroli recommended only a $500 fine and $500 in restitution.

In court filings, Snow says he has paid restitution and has done his 60 hours of community service with the Cleburne County Road Department.

"Merely complying with the terms of his probation is insufficient to warrant a sentence reduction," Prout wrote in a motion asking that Snow's request for early termination of probation be denied.

Besides complying with the terms of his probation, Tuesday's filing noted that Snow's probation officer didn't oppose early termination of his probation, and "There are no concerns that Mr. Snow is a danger to himself or others."

Tuesday's filing includes an "argument" section with case law citations that wasn't in Snow's Aug. 15 motion for early termination of probation.

Weapons are mentioned a second time in Tuesday's filing, under a list of "facts" that support the argument that termination "is warranted and is in the interests of justice."

"The Court's requirement that Mr. Snow not possess any weapons while on supervision prevents him from being able to adequately defend himself and his wife in their rural home (located a significant distance from law enforcement), especially, when Mr. Snow was the victim of threats during the course of this proceeding and his declining health makes it harder for him to defend himself while unarmed from threatening or assaultive conduct," according to the filing.

Snow also wants his passport returned to him.

Snow is the only one of Arkansas' four Capitol riot defendants who has pleaded guilty.

Richard "Bigo" Barnett, 62, of Gravette and Peter Francis Stager, 43, of Conway face felony charges in connection with the riot. Their trials are scheduled for December.

Stager is the only one of the Arkansas defendants still incarcerated.

Jon Thomas Mott, 39, of Yellville faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the Capitol riot. No trial has been set yet for Mott. He recently asked that he be allowed to possess firearms for "subsistence hunting," and a judge granted that request.