By Jody DiPerna
Pittsburgh Current Senior Contributor
When Jorden Mink got back to his home in Oakdale after taking part in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, he told his fiancee Lexie Otey that he had fun, according to Otey’s testimony this morning at the virtual detention hearing of Mink..
Mink could be seen wiping tears from his eyes as his fiancee testified.
The hearing took place in front of Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The official charges filed against Mink include: unlawful entry of a restricted building or grounds while carrying or using a deadly or dangerous weapon; unlawful injury to property on Capitol grounds; violent entry, disorderly conduct and physical violence on Capitol grounds; destruction of government property valued at over $1,000; theft of government property; aiding and abetting.
Defense lawyer Michael Moser characterized his client’s actions on January 6 as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a jerk.” Despite that modest description of the offense, Judge Lenihan denied Mink’s release and he will remain in custody until his trial.
From the bench, Lenihan concluded her decision by saying, “I think that there is an issue that you would attempt to obstruct justice moving forward if you were released. The fact that you were involved in this crime against our democracy and that you engaged in a violent attack on the United States Capitol, evidences to me nothing but a complete and total disregard for the government and for the rule of law. For that reason, I don’t think any conditions I would impose would be effective because I don’t think you would abide by them.”
US Attorney Soo C. Song opened the hearing by reporting that in addition to the current charges, Mink was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on seven counts related to the riots. Information on the indictment is not yet known becaue the documents have not yet been entered into the public record. The indictment includes charges of obstruction and attempting to impede official proceedings, a crime that carries with it up to 20 years of imprisonment.
But this was a hearing to determine whether or not Mink would be released into the custody of his fiancee until his trial date. There was testimony from FBI Special Agent Bryan Alfredo regarding the agency’s investigation. He walked the court through photographic and video evidence showing Mink at the Capitol building breaking windows with a bat, brandishing a flagpole at Capitol police officers, and spitting at officers.
He also testified that the cellphone Mink was carrying on that day — which is red and clearly visible in a few photos — has disappeared. And that Mink purchased a new one.
Otey, Mink’s fiancee, corroborated that the phone which can be seen in Mink’s hand at the Capitol is gone, and that he purchased a new one. Although she said she didn’t know where the old phone went. The phone seemed to be a key piece of evidence when, in her summation, the Judge noted that the “mysterious disappearance” of this phone was an attempt to obstruct justice by Mink.
There was also a good bit of testimony about the AR-15 that Jorden Mink posed with on election day, having affixed his “I Voted” sticker on it. That weapon was not in his house, nor in the storage unit he rents and uses as a recording studio.
Otey said that specific gun went missing after a trip to DC. She said that they did report it as stolen with the South Fayette Police Department. The couple and their child spent time in D.C., returning home on January 3. She said Mink drove back to the city to attend the Trump protest.
Beyond that, testimony presented by the prosecutor revealed that Mink attempted to purchase a new gun on January 9, just three days after the rioting and insurrection at the Capitol. He had also attempted to purchase a gun in August of 2020. Both of those purchases were denied, though neither the FBI nor prosecuting attorney knew what the circumstances were around either denial.
Moser, in asking for his client’s release, argued that Mink did behave badly and there would be consequences, but he said, he felt strongly that with supervision and perhaps monitoring, Mink would behave appropriately and meet all the conditions the court might impose saying that he was charged with “trespassing, breaking a window and and stealing some office furniture.”
Mr. Moser went on to say, “Let’s concede that he went down there and acted like an idiot, got out of control. … he went to DC, got caught up in some things.” He characterized his client as a “knucklehead,” but that there was no evidence that he was “racist” or “extremist.”
Judge Lenihan thought otherwise, saying, “Despite counsel’s argument that he was a ‘jerk’ on January 6, I would say that Mr. Mink was more than a jerk or an idiot, as I think counsel also referred to him. He put members of our government in fear of their lives by his actions.”
Under the Bail Reform Act, pretrial detention is an exceptional step. However, given the nature and circumstances of the alleged offenses, the Judge ordered that Mink not be granted conditional release, saying, “This was a horrendous crime against our democracy that Mr. Mink not only participated in, but was a very active and violent participant.”