Guilty plea reached in FBI murder plot

Faced with a potential life sentence, a Tennessee man struck a plea deal alleging he engaged in a conspiracy to murder FBI agents with a Jan. 6 defendant.

Tuesday, 26-year-old Austin Carter of Knoxville, facing one count of Conspiracy to Murder Employees of the United States, submitted a guilty plea that could see him facing “a sentence not greater than 120 months in prison” after he pointed a finger at his co-defendant, 33-year-old Edward Kelley.

Carter’s filing stated that in Dec. 2022, around the time of his arrest, the “defendant unlawfully and knowingly combined, conspired, and agreed with his co-defendant, EDWARD KELLEY, to murder employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation…while such employees were engaged in, and on account of the performance of, official duties.”

According to NBC News, Carter was a member of the Army Reserves at the time of his arrest which followed Kelley’s own initial arrest related to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol in May 2022. The filing alleged that Carter “and a cooperating witness (‘CW’) discussed collecting information and plans to kill FBI employees.”

A separate filing from December had contended that Kelley provided a list of roughly 37 law enforcement officials who were connected to his J6 case. From there, Carter’s plea agreements said those names were passed along to the CW who was told to memorize them and destroy the list. Thereafter, the co-defendants allegedly “discussed plans to attack the FBI Field Office in Knoxville, Tennessee.”

“The defendant is pleading guilty because the defendant is in fact guilty,” Tuesday’s filing asserted while Kelley himself had entered a not-guilty plea in January.

Carter’s plea agreement, which the government can either accept or decline, came as Kelley awaits his own trial related to his actions taken on Jan. 6. NBC News detailed that “Video from the Jan. 6 riot shows a man identified as Kelley using a piece of wood to breach a window, jumping through the window, and then kicking open a fire escape, allowing other rioters to stream inside the Capitol.”

Image Kelley via DOJ

While his status conference regarding his Jan. 6 case is slated to take place in December, his jury trial for the federal murder conspiracy case is expected to begin in Jan. 2024.

The filing did not detail how the co-defendants intended to conduct the alleged plot to murder as many federal employees.

However, a supplemental memo submitted at the time of Carter’s arrest indicated that he owned “firearms, and his wife confirmed this during her testimony, although these have been secured with an unnamed individual in another city four-and-one-half hours away. Finally, Defendant has worked for four different security companies and is a member of the Army Reserves, where he received advanced training. While presuming Defendant’s innocence, the allegations show a willingness to take violent action against others, and it appears that Defendant has the training and potential access to the equipment (firearms) to do so. The weight of the evidence of Defendant’s dangerousness is therefore significant.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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