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US Capitol riot suspect from Greer pleads not guilty, released to home detention

William Norwood

According to the FBI, this is a photo of William Robert Norwood III before he entered the U.S. Capitol as part of a violent mob trying to overturn the U.S. election on Jan. 6, 2021. File/FBI/Provided

GREENVILLE — The Greer man charged in relation to the U.S. Capitol riot pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment April 20, and the judge in the case ordered him released to home detention in Spartanburg County.

William Robert Norwood III, 37, was indicted March 19 with seven charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, including theft of government property; obstruction of Congress; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly conduct in the Capitol building; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; and entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol building, specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Norwood was arrested Feb. 25 and had an initial detention hearing the next day at the federal courthouse in Greenville. The magistrate judge at the time ordered him held due to some of the statements Norwood allegedly made in a family Facebook chat about assaulting police officers at the Capitol and because he didn’t find Norwood’s testimony reliable.

Norwood has been held in a Washington, D.C., jail since then.

In its evaluation of Norwood’s motion for pretrial release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell said despite Norwood’s boasts to family members, the government has not found evidence that Norwood assaulted anyone inside or outside of the Capitol.

“Aside from participating in the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol in an apparent attempt to subvert a democratic election and prevent the peaceful transition of power, defendant also led a pack of rioters through the inner sanctum of Speaker Pelosi’s office space,” Mirell said.

He kept a souvenir from Pelosi’s office, a drink coaster that says "United States Congress," Mirell said in the document.

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The evaluation also said Norwood admitted to FBI agents that he packed a knife, bear mace and a green tactical vest when he left South Carolina, which the government said showed some level of planning was involved.

“The fact that defendant packed these items in the first place suggests that he was ‘not just caught up in the frenzy of the crowd, but instead came to Washington, D.C. with the intention of causing mayhem and disrupting the democratic process,’ ” Mirell said in the evaluation.

Norwood was charged with theft of government property after FBI agents found a U.S. Capitol Police helmet and tactical vest in a storage container after they arrested Norwood. He previously told agents he left the items in a hotel room in Washington.

That charge, and obstruction of an official proceeding, are each felonies and carry a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Senior U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said it would have been an interesting hearing if the government had opposed release because “some of the statements attributed to Mr. Norwood are very disturbing.”

Sullivan granted release to home detention with electronic monitoring and stipulated Norwood could not have contact with any co-conspirators or with his estranged wife, who may be a victim or witness.

At his initial detention hearing, Norwood said he traveled with his wife to former President Donald Trump’s speech at the Ellipse and then they walked to the Capitol building, where he said they got separated and he went inside. She has not been charged in the case.

Follow Nathaniel Cary on Twitter at @nathanielcary

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