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Two Types of Criminals

Chris Quaglin is still in jail awaiting trial, subject to January 6 jurisprudence. Killer Isaiah Trotman should have been in prison a long time ago.

Jeff Sessions And Rod Rosenstein Attend Investiture Ceremony of U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden
U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden speaks during his investiture ceremony April 13, 2018 at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Bob Quaglin sat in the courtroom of Judge Trevor McFadden on Tuesday, feet away from his son, Chris Quaglin, and his son’s attorney, Jon Gross. A 10 a.m. hearing was scheduled, during which Gross moved that the younger Quaglin be granted a temporary release so that they could adequately prepare for trial.

McFadden denied the request and read a prepared statement. “I recognize the D.C. jail has had problems,” he said. “I think both parties should work collaboratively to ensure Mr. Quaglin has access to discovery.” The length of pre-trial detention is “primarily due to [Mr. Quaglin’s] own choices.”


Gross disputed many of the judge’s claims and said that he would file a motion to alter or amend McFadden’s ruling. Quaglin has been detained since his arrest in April 2021 and has been transferred to nine facilities. His most recent trial date was scheduled for April 10, more than two years after his arrest, but Gross, an orthodox Jew, cannot attend because of Passover: Gross calls it "January 6 jurisprudence."

Bob Quaglin told The American Conservative that he and his family were “initially very hopeful that this was going to have some positive outcome.” He further explained, “We had the experience with this judge once before. So, am I surprised? That’s probably not the best word. I’m extremely disappointed in basically not getting anything.”

Mr. Quaglin drove from New Hampshire for the motion hearing in the U.S. District Court for D.C., “hoping to be talking to my son. That was one of the reasons I was here, to pick him up, hoping that he’d be released today or tomorrow. And then we’d have, you know, a nice, long drive back to New Jersey and get him prepared to see a child that he hasn’t seen since [he was] two months old. He just celebrated his second birthday.”

I was first introduced to Chris while working on a piece for TAC’s January/February magazine at the end of last year. He would call me from Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, and describe his treatment. Chris has a serious case of Celiac disease, so many of his complaints regarded food. His wife Moira would occasionally text to let me know he had been transferred or that he had lost phone privileges.

In one text, Moira told me that Chris had been transferred back to the D.C. Central Detention Facility (CDF). Because of my proximity to the jail, I scheduled a visit with him for February 8.


I rode the Metro to Stadium-Armory, which is within walking distance to the CDF. The station immediately preceding Stadium-Armory is Potomac Avenue, a spot that I presumed many swamp creatures had been avoiding in recent weeks.

On the morning of February 1, 31-year-old Isaiah Trotman shot 64-year-old Metro mechanic Robert Cunningham in the head with a 9mm handgun on the underground platform of Potomac Avenue, half a mile from the CDF. Cunningham, who was wearing his safety vest, according to reporting from the Post, “crumpled to the ground on the Silver Line platform. Trotman then stomped three times on Cunningham’s chest, yelling, ‘I’m a killer, and this is what I do,’ as a train pulled into the station.”

Before making his way down to the platform, Trotman preceded his rampage by threatening a man on the M6 bus to Potomac Avenue. According to police, Trotman pointed a gun at the man and told him that he would die.

Before Cunningham was killed on February 1, the Post reports that police saw Trotman swinging at a group of women on D.C.’s U Street in August 2020, cutting one on the lip: “He was arrested and charged with simple assault, though there was no record the case was pursued in court.” The Post also reports that D.C. police responded to four domestic violence calls related to Trotman in 2019 and 2020.

DCist reports that Trotman was arrested for assault in Charlottesville, Virginia, in late 2021, “though that charge was dismissed last year.” One Charlottesville prosecutor called Jim Hingeley told the Washington Free Beacon last month that “I seriously doubt that a hypothetical six-month active jail sentence, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars, and ending in June 2022, would have prevented the tragic killing and woundings in D.C. seven months after Mr. Trotman's release from a hypothetical sentence in Albemarle County.”

Most recently, the Gettysburg Times reports that Trotman “was charged with one count each of manufacture, delivery, or possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver, driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, and public drunkenness” in April of last year. DCist reports that police in Adams County, Pennsylvania, found “12 bags of meth, marijuana, and other paraphernalia in his SUV.” He pleaded guilty in January 2023 to the one drug charge, “which carries a sentence of up to 15 years,” and was awaiting sentencing for that charge on April 17.

Gross told TAC that Chris Quaglin had nothing on his record before his arrest in April 2021. While McFadden read his decision, Bob Quaglin sat in a mostly empty courtroom and hardly moved. As the judge was about to exit, the clerk said the customary, “all rise.” Bob Quaglin grabbed the pew in front of him, stood up, and waited for McFadden to exit. The judge said during his decision that Chris Quaglin poses a “risk of dangerousness” that precludes him from issuing a temporary release. A trial date has not yet been finalized.