The East Naples man suspected of participating in the U.S. Capitol riot in January is now being represented by a Tampa attorney, replacing the high-profile lawyer who had taken over the case in March.
Christopher Worrell, 50, was arrested after FBI agents executed a search and arrest warrant at his home on March 12.
The prosecution claims Worrell assaulted a line of law enforcement officers with pepper spray gel outside the U.S. Capitol building during the riot in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.
On Friday, a joint stipulation for substitution of counsel motion before Judge Royce C. Lamberth in U.S. District court in Washington D.C., was filed listing Attorney Alex Reed Stavrou , Sr., of Tampa as Worrell’s new lawyer, replacing Attorney John Pierce.
The motion said Pierce, who’s status has been unclear lately, would have no further responsibilities in the Worrell case.
Pierce had been representing 17 of the more than 500 people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pierce was said to possibly be ill with COVID-19, on a ventilator and unresponsive, according to a notice filed by the prosecution in Worrell’s case.
But a recent story in USA Today said Pierce, the lawyer for more than a dozen people charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, informed judges in Washington, D.C., that he’s been released from a 12-day stay in a Los Angeles-area hospital and would be back on his cases soon.
An NPR reporter tweeted that Pierce said he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and doesn’t expect to be, and wouldn’t be “elaborating further on my personal medical issues.”
Pierce first became famous as the lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse, after the teen was charged with fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. Rittenhouse fired Pierce in February.
Stavrou, who did not respond to a request for comment Saturday, is the third attorney for Worrell. His first attorney, Landon Miller, was terminated from the case in March and Pierce took over representation.
Despite concerns over Pierce’s whereabouts, the prosecution continued to file motions including opposition to revoking Worrell’s pretrial detention. The motion filed by Worrell’s defense team was a reply to the prosecution’s opposition to revoking the detention order.
The motion from Worrell’s defense team said he should be released pending his trial because he is not getting proper treatment for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or his broken hand while at the men’s correctional treatment facility.
Federal prosecutors said that was not true and listed dates for Worrell’s cancer biopsy.
According to a motion filed by federal prosecutors on Sept. 16, “25 pages of Mr. Worrell’s medical records, which contain those records that have been entered since August 12, 2021. The records indicate that Mr. Worrell has now received the two biopsies that he complained of not having received in his original motion—the same biopsies he previously declined to attend. … He is in fact routinely receiving care for his lymphoma, including at world-class outside hospitals with specialties in cancer care.”
Federal prosecutors said Worrell received care for every ailment he brought to the attention of the D.C. Jail staff.
“His emergency motion to revoke the detention order should be denied as meritless,” the motion said. Judge Lamberth has not yet ruled on the motions.
Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA Today, contributed to this story. Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook), @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or email@example.com. Proud member of Local #3108 TNG-CWA Southwest Florida News Guild.