‘Zip tie guy’ Eric Munchel, who has Florida connections, to appear before D.C. judge

Sunday’s order comes after federal prosecutors appealed a Tennessee judge’s order to release…

'Zip tie guy' Eric Munchel, who has Florida connections, to appear before D.C. judge 1
'Zip tie guy' Eric Munchel, who has Florida connections, to appear before D.C. judge 2

Mariah Timms

Brinley Hineman
 
| Nashville Tennessean

Eric Munchel — dubbed “zip tie guy” on social media after he was photographed holding a handful of plastic restraints inside the U.S. Capitol during the failed insurrection on Jan. 6 — will be transported to Washington, D.C., a federal judge ruled Sunday. 

Munchel faces charges in connection with the insurrection attempt and is being tried in both the Middle Tennessee District and District of Columbia District courts. 

After a federal judge in Tennessee ruled Friday that Munchel could be released from custody, prosecutors filed a motion to stay that ruling until a hearing in the nation’s capital. 

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Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington on Sunday ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to transport him across the country pending further proceedings in the case.

Howell’s order keeps Munchel in custody until further review of the motions to detain him. 

After hours of testimony Friday, Middle Tennessee District Court Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley determined Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public. He said it was unclear if Munchel intended to harm anyone when he entered the Capitol. 

The decision came after testimony from character witnesses supporting Munchel and an FBI agent who assisted in searching the man’s home in Nashville. Federal agents seized more than a dozen high-power guns during the search

“It’s not clear what his motive was,” Frensley said. “It’s not clear what his intent was. The proof on these issues is inconsistent.”

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Although, the judge determined, it was clear Munchel’s goal was to disrupt the government. 

“Make no mistake: the fear the defendant helped spread on Jan. 6 persists — the imprint on this country’s history of a militia clad insurrectionist standing over an occupied Senate chamber is indelible. Only detention mitigates such grave danger,” federal prosecutors argued in their plea for Howell to review the decision. “There is no release condition or combination of release conditions that will reasonably assure the community’s safety or the defendant’s return to court.”

Frensley allowed Munchel’s release to be delayed until Monday, giving time for Howell to review and rule on the motion for a longer delay from that court.

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Charged in tandem with mother

Munchel has been in federal custody since his arrest on Jan. 10 when he turned himself over to authorities. Conditions of his release include staying in the home of a Nashville woman who testified she viewed Munchel as a son. She defended him and spoke highly of him during her testimony. 

Frensley addressed Munchel directly when handing down his ruling and told him he hopes he learns from this experience. Munchel will remain in custody until a ruling from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. 

Public defender Caryll S. Alpert said Munchel was only following his mother’s lead in “an act of civil disobedience” when they entered the Capitol, and he did so to keep her safe from harm.

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Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, of Woodstock, Georgia, also faces federal charges for entering the Capitol with her son. A detention hearing in her case is scheduled for Monday afternoon. 

Munchel went viral on social media after a photographer captured an image of the man jumping over the railing inside the Senate chamber holding a handful of plastic restraints. The image shows Munchel decked out in a bullet-resistant vest and a black camouflage outfit. 

“That is one snapshot in time and it doesn’t represent who Mr. Munchel is,” Alpert said, arguing that Munchel didn’t necessarily hold the views of the entire pro-Trump mob. 

“Anytime you choose to be a part of the mob, there is a mob mentality, and you automatically connect yourself to the dangerousness,” Frensley said.

A Georgia native, Munchel has lived in Tennessee for several years and previously in Florida. He recently worked at Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk, a popular Broadway bar. He has no prior violent criminal history, but did face two marijuana charges from at least five years in Georgia. 

Reach reporter Mariah Timms at mtimms@tennessean.com or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms

Reach Brinley Hineman at bhineman@tennessean.com and on Twitter @brinleyhineman.

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