Teen charged in Capitol insurrection asks court to be released from jail while awaiting trial

MILTON, Ga. — Lawyers for a Milton teen accused of storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are pushing for his release from federal custody, but prosecutors are pushing back.

Prosecutors say Bruno Cua, 18, was among dozens of people who forced their way into the Capitol during the insurrection.

The FBI says video shows the teen in the Senate chamber after he shoved a Capitol officer on his way onto the floor.

In court filings obtained by Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik, prosecutors point to dozens of social media posts Cua made before and after the event and his alleged actions on the day in question.

“Public social media posts on the platform Parler by the defendant in this case evinces a full picture of who this really defendant is: a radicalized man with violent tendencies and no remorse for his participation in the violent insurrection,” prosecutors said.

Cua’s attorneys, however, claim he should be released from an Oklahoma detention facility while he awaits a scheduled May trial on multiple charges, including assault of a Capitol police officer.

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“The defense must reemphasize for the Court that, despite the rhetoric included in the messages and posts provided by the government, Mr. Cua took no actions to follow through on any of those messages after January 6—a full month before his arrest. That lack of action demonstrates Mr. Cua had no intent to follow through on any social media posts with further actions,” Cua’s attorneys said.

Prosecutors told the court there’s evidence Cua’s parents drove him to Washington, D.C., for the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally.

“The defendant’s parents are hardly appropriate custodians given their own participation in the defendant’s crimes on January 6, 2021 … the defendant’s parents drove him from Georgia to the insurrection in Washington, D.C., knew he was in possession of a dangerous weapon, went on to the Capitol grounds with him, watched him walk off towards the Capitol building, did not discourage him from climbing the scaffolding set up for the Inauguration, and discussed his illegal activities inside the Capitol once he returned,” they wrote. “His parents even follow and promote the defendant’s social media from their own Parler account … After returning to Georgia from Washington, D.C., the defendant’s parents ‘realized that ... he did something very wrong and he ‘could be in a lot of trouble,’ but did nothing to alert authorities.’”

His attorneys claim Cua is remorseful for his alleged actions, and they point to a message he sent his own parents while in custody.

“I’m kicking myself for my pointless social media activity. I never realized I could really get in trouble for what I said on the internet, it seemed like everyone said whatever they wanted … Social media is mind control, and it’s addicting. Come to think of it it sounds like a modern drug. Never again. Theres so many things I wish I could change,” he wrote.

The defense team has also tendered about four dozen letters of character reference to the judge in their efforts to get him released.

Legal analyst Esther Panitch believes Cua’s family dynamic could hurt his chances of release.

“It seems like his family, who’s usually the support system that helps get people out, is really working against him at this point,” she told Petchenik. “I think he may have an argument if he can say he’s going somewhere else, that his parents have nothing to do with him and won’t influence him.”

Cua’s defense team also points out that judges have allowed other insurrection suspects, including a member of the extremist group “The Proud Boys,” to go free on bond while keeping Cua locked up.

Panitch doesn’t believe that argument will help, either.

“It’s really hard to compare one defendant to another because each defendant comes into their own circumstances and experience,” she said. “I hesitate to always compare any of my clients to somebody who may have been released, because it could be a pitfall in this particular case.”

A former neighbor of Cua said she doesn’t believe he’s remorseful.

“I just think they’re desperate to get him home,” said the neighbor, who asked Petchenik not to identify her. “I think mostly they’re probably just terrified.”

Cua’s trial is tentatively set for May 12 in Washington, D.C.