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UCLA student allegedly involved in Capitol riots to be released from custody

Christian Secor, a UCLA student facing 10 federal charges related to his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol riots, will be able to be released from federal custody pending trial. Per the terms of his release, he will have to post $200,000 bail and will have to remain in home incarceration. (Courtesy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)

By Bernard Mendez

March 24, 2021 2:53 p.m.

A federal judge approved a motion Wednesday that will allow Christian Secor to be released from federal custody pending trial.

Secor, a UCLA undergraduate who was arrested in February for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, will be released in the Central District of California under home incarceration. Secor will also be put under 24-hour home confinement and location monitoring and will have to post $200,000 bail and pay for the costs of location monitoring.

Secor’s defense attorney filed the motion March 14, the day before winter quarter final exam week at UCLA began, asking the court to end Secor’s pretrial detention.

At a virtual hearing Wednesday, a federal prosecutor argued that if released, Secor could be a flight risk and a danger to the community, given his past history with firearms. However, Trevor McFadden, a federal judge for the District of Columbia District Court, said at the hearing that the prosecution did not present clear and convincing enough evidence to suggest Secor would be a flight risk or a danger to the community and ultimately approved the motion.

The motion was intended to let Secor complete his final exams at UCLA; he was set to graduate this year, according to court filings. However, Secor did not receive a hearing on the motion until Wednesday, five days after final exams at UCLA ended. Secor attended the virtual hearing via Zoom out of an Orange County prison.

Kimberly Paschall, a federal prosecutor representing the U.S. against Secor, said at the virtual hearing that the government believed Secor attempted to evade federal officers before his arrest, destroying his cell phone and discussing plans to flee California. Federal officers found a privately manufactured “ghost gun” at his mother’s house during his arrest and Secor had a .22 caliber gun registered in his name. Paschall said the government feared Secor could have access to additional unregistered guns.

[Related link: Christian Secor to appear in court, argue for release from federal custody Wednesday]

However, Brandi Harden, a Washington-based defense attorney who is representing Secor, said at the hearing that Secor was not the owner of the ghost gun and all the firearms he owned were legally obtained. Harden also argued that even though Secor may have discussed plans to leave, there was no concrete evidence he planned to leave, adding that he remained at his mother’s Orange County residence for around 40 days before his Feb. 16 arrest.

Paschall said the government is concerned that Secor met with someone to plan an “ultra secret” operation before his arrest. Harden, however, said that there was no evidence the “ultra secret” operation was a violent or anti-government plot.

Harden said at the hearing that Secor would not be a threat if released because he does not have a criminal history. Harden added that although Secor was charged with a violent offense – video obtained by prosecutors shows Secor helping a crowd push a door blocked by Capitol Police officers – there is no evidence that his actions led to any injuries.

[Related link: UCLA student arrested for alleged participation in US Capitol riots]

Secor is facing 10 criminal charges relating to his actions at the Jan. 6 U.S. Captiol riots. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. Harden said Secor plans to plead not guilty on all 10 charges.

McFadden ultimately sided with the defense on most of the points and approved Secor’s motion. The motion attempted to overturn an Orange County judge’s order after Secor’s arrest that Secor remain detained pending trial.

Under the terms of his release, Secor will have to forfeit his passport and remain in the Central District of California, which includes both Los Angeles County and Orange County.

The court scheduled Secor’s next court appearance for June 14 at 2 p.m. EST for a status conference.

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Bernard Mendez | News editor
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
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