Oath Keeper who stormed US Capitol on Jan. 6 gets more than 8 years in prison

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WASHINGTON (AP) — An Army veteran who stormed the US Capitol in a military-style formation with fellow members of the Oath Guard was sentenced Friday to more than eight years in prison, a day after far-right The founder of the extremist group received 18. -Year’s jail in January 6, 2021 attack.

Jessica Watkins of Woodstock, Ohio, was acquitted of the seditious conspiracy charge of which Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty in November, but jurors found her guilty of obstructing Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. and convicted of conspiracy.

She is the third member of the anti-government group to be sentenced this week in one of the most serious cases brought by the Justice Department into the riots. Rhodes’ 18-year sentence is the longest ever handed down in hundreds of capital riot cases.

US District Judge Amit Mehta said that while Watkins was not a top leader like Rhodes, she was more than “just a foot soldier”, noting that at least three other people charged in the riot would not be there if she had not admitted Would have them to join. He sentenced her to 8 1/2 years behind bars.

“Your role that day was more aggressive, more aggressive, probably more purposeful than others,” he told her.

Watkins tearfully apologized for his actions before the judge sentenced him. She condemned the violence perpetrated by rioters who attacked police, but said she knew her presence at the Capitol “probably inspired those people to a degree.” She described herself on 6 January as “another idiot running around the Capitol”.

File:Violent rioters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“And today you’re going to hold this idiot accountable,” he told the judge.

The judge, for his part, said that her personal story of struggling for years to come to terms with her identity as a transgender woman made it especially difficult for him to understand that she “lacked empathy for those who suffer.” Why has it appeared? 6. Watkins testified at trial about hiding his identity from his parents during a strict Christian upbringing and going AWOL in the military after evidence of his contact with a support group for transgender people was found.

During the nearly two-month trial in federal court in Washington, attorneys for Watkins and the other oath keepers argued that there was no plan to attack the Capitol. On the witness stand, Watkins told jurors that she never intended to interfere with the certification and that she never heard any orders for her and the other sworn keepers to enter the building.

Evidence shown to jurors showed Watkins following her 2020 election message with people who expressed interest in joining her Ohio militia group regarding “military-style basic” training. During his opening on January 20, 2021 he told a recruit: “I need you to keep fit”.

On January 6, Watkins and other oath-keepers, dressed in helmets and other paramilitary gear, were seen making their way through the crowd and onto the Capitol steps in a military-style “stack” formation. She communicated with others during the riot on a channel called “Stop the Steal J6” on the walkie-talkie app Zello, announcing that “we’re in the main dome now.”

Another oath keeper and fellow Army veteran — Kenneth Harrelson — will be sentenced later Friday. One of his other co-defendants, Florida chapter leader Kelly Meigs, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other charges.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, center, during a rally outside the White House on June 25, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Rhodes, 58, of Granbury, Texas, was the first defendant Jan. 6 to be convicted of seditious conspiracy in what prosecutors said was a weeks-long plot to forcibly block the transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to Biden . Four other oath-keepers convicted of treason during a second trial in January will be sentenced next week.

During his sentencing on Thursday, Rhodes claimed to be a “political prisoner”, criticized prosecutors and the Biden administration and tried to downplay his actions on Jan. 6. The judge called Rhodes a continuing threat to the United States who clearly “wants democracy” to engage in violence in this country.

The conviction of the oath-keepers this week could serve as a guide for prosecutors in a separate January 6 case against the leaders of the Proud Boys extremist group. Earlier this month, a separate jury indicted former Proud Boys national president Enrique Tarrio and three other group leaders for seditious conspiracy in what prosecutors said was another plot to keep Trump in the White House.

Before Thursday, the longest sentence in more than 1,000 Capitol riot cases was 14 years and two months for a man with a lengthy criminal record who attacked police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the Capitol. Had given. Just over 500 defendants have been sentenced, with more than half receiving prison time.

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