U.S. judge delays trial for men accused of assaulting Capitol police amid plea talks

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WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday postponed a June trial date for two men accused of assaulting police during last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol after an attorney for one of the defendants expressed optimism a plea deal could be reached.

Julian Khater and George Pierre Tanios had been slated to go to trial on June 6 on multiple criminal charges including assaulting at least three U.S. Capitol and Washington police officers with a chemical agent.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan agreed to reschedule the trial to Oct. 5 to give the parties more time to negotiate.

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One of those assaulted, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died of natural causes following multiple strokes the day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by former President Donald Trump's supporters in a failed bid to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.

Khater, of State College, Pennsylvania, was arrested last year as he disembarked from an airplane at Newark Airport in New Jersey. Tanios, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was arrested at his residence in West Virginia. Khater remains detained. Tanios was released with strict curfew orders.

"We've had significant discussions ... with the government about a potential resolution of this matter," said Chad Seigel, an attorney for Khater, adding that he recently provided prosecutors with a "very detailed factual and legal submission" for their review.

Seigel said that the trial had to be postponed because the rigorous schedule to prepare for it was impeding the ability to strike a plea deal.

Elizabeth Gross, an attorney for Khater's co-defendant Tanios, expressed less optimism that her client could also reach a plea deal, saying her talks with the government have proven less fruitful.

"Possibly more time could help us come to a better resolution," Gross said. "A continuance won't hurt Mr. Tanios."

Tanios told the judge on Monday he was fine with postponing the trial, saying, "I look forward to my day in court."

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham

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