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Capitol riot's 'zip-tie guy,' mother to be released after prosecutors back down

Eric Munchel Lisa Marie Eisenhart.jpeg
Posted at 4:57 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 17:57:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Capitol riot's so-called "zip-tie guy" and his mother will be released from jail.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the release of Eric Munchel and Lisa Marie Eisenhart after prosecutors decided Monday to drop efforts to keep the pair locked up. That came days after a federal appeals court ordered the lower court to take a second look at the case.

Lamberth's order reinstates the release conditions ordered by in January by Nashville Magistrate Chip Frensley, including home detention and electronic monitoring.

The D.C. district judge also prohibited Munchel and Eisenhart from using the Internet and encrypted messaging apps. They are also barred from contact with anyone involved in the Capitol riot.

Munchel, a former Nashville bartender, was photographed in the Senate gallery, wearing camouflage and holding several sets of plastic flex cuffs that he had apparently picked up inside the Capitol.

Video showed him and Eisenhart, from Woodstock, Georgia, entering the building through an open door, walking past Capitol police officers who made no attempt to stop them.

The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals had questioned the legal basis for continuing to hold the pair.

"That Munchel and Eisenhart assaulted no one on January 6; that they did not enter the Capitol by force; and that they vandalized no property are all factors that weigh against a finding that either pose a threat of 'using force to promote [their] political ends,'" Judge Judith Rogers wrote for the two-person majority in the case.

"In our view, those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows, doors and barricades, and those who aided, conspired with, planned or coordinated such actions, are in a different category of dangerousness than those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way."

A third appellate judge dissented from Friday's opinion, saying the D.C. judge had clearly erred and should be ordered to immediately set conditions for their release.

"They searched for no Members of Congress, and they harassed no police officers," Judge Gregory S. Katsas wrote.

"They found plastic handcuffs by chance, but never threatened to use them. Munchel's threat to 'break' anyone who vandalized the Capitol was intended to prevent destruction."

The D.C. federal judge had also relied on tough talk from Munchel and Eisenhart to a reporter after the Capitol riot.

Katsas argued "the defendants' actual conduct belied their rhetorical bravado."

"During the chaos of the Capitol riot, Munchel and Eisenhart had ample opportunity to fight, yet neither of them did," the appellate judge added.

"Munchel lawfully possessed several firearms in his home, but he took none to the Capitol."