- Jessica Watkins and Kenneth Harrelson, the two Army veterans and oath keepers who stormed the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, have been sentenced to 8½ years and four years in prison, respectively.
- Watkins and Harrelson’s sentencing came just a day after Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison – the longest sentence ever handed down to any convicted January 6 participant.
- Weeping, Harrelson said in court, “I’ve completely ruined my life.” “I am responsible, and my senseless actions have caused great pain to my wife and our children.”
Two veterans who stormed the US Capitol in military-style formation with fellow members of the Oath Keepers were sentenced to life in prison on Friday, a day after the founder of a far-right extremist group was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Record-setting was found. January 6, 2021, Assault.
US District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Jessica Watkins of Woodstock, Ohio, to eight years and six months behind bars and Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, Florida, to four years in prison.
A federal jury acquitted Watkins and Harrelson of the seditious conspiracy charge of which Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, was convicted in November. But jurors convicted Watkins and Harrelson on other charges Jan. 6, including obstructing Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
2 more members to be sworn in after Stewart Rhodes is sentenced
Rhodes’ 18-year sentence is the longest prison sentence ever handed down in hundreds of capital riot cases. The charges against leaders of The Oath Keepers and another extremist group, the Proud Boys, are among the most serious brought by the Justice Department in a wider investigation into the riots.
Mehta agreed with the Justice Department that the actions of Rhodes and other oath-keepers could be punished as “terrorism”, increasing the punishment recommended under federal guidelines.
But the judge ultimately gave Watkins and Harrelson far less time than prosecutors. The Justice Department had requested 18 years for Watkins and 15 for Harrelson.
Watkins and Harrelson, along with other Oath Keepers members, marched toward the Capitol in a “stack” formation as a crowd of Trump supporters clashed with police officers. Harrelson was the group’s “ground team lead” on January 6. Watkins, who formed a separate Ohio-based militia group, recruited others to join the Oath Keepers in Washington that day.
Mehta said that while Watkins was not a top leader like Rhodes, he was more than just a “foot soldier”, noting that at least three other people charged in the riot would not be there if he had asked them to join him. Would not have recruited. ,
“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 acknowledged that 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”.
“And today you’re going to hold this idiot accountable,” he told the judge.
The judge said that Watkins’ personal story of coming to terms with her identity as a transgender woman made it particularly difficult for him to understand why she has shown a “lack of empathy for the victims” of Jan. 6. . Testified at trial about hiding her identity from her parents during a strict Christian upbringing and going AWOL in the military after a fellow soldier found evidence of her contact with a support group for transgender people.
Harrelson told the judge he went to Washington after another sworn keeper offered him a “security job,” but said he has never voted for president in his life and doesn’t care about politics. In events prior to the riot, some of those sworn in provided security for Trump aide Roger Stone and other right-wing figures.
“I have completely destroyed my life,” he said, breaking down in tears. “I am responsible, and my senseless actions have caused great pain to my wife and our children.”
Mehta said he does not agree with the government’s portrayal of Harrelson as a “mid-level organizer” for the sworn-in. The judge said that unlike several other members of the group charged in the attack, Harrelson did not send a message “that anyone would consider extremist”.
But the judge said he was struck by an image of Harrelson patting a police officer on the back as he left the Capitol.
The judge told him, “You weren’t there that day just because you got swept.”
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. She told a recruit, “I need you to be fighting fit” at the opening, which took place on January 20, 2021.
Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years the following January. 6 seditious conspiracy accomplished
On January 6, Watkins and other oath keepers were seen wearing helmets and other paramilitary gear making their way through crowds and up the Capitol stairs in 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, “We’re in the main dome now.”
Harrelson shouted “Treason!” — an epithet directed at members of Congress — as they entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, a prosecutor said.
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.
Rhodes, 58, of Granbury, Texas, was the first defendant on January 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 described Rhodes as a continuing threat to the United States who apparently “wants” democracy in this country to turn into violence.”
The conviction of the oath-keepers this week could serve as a guide for prosecutors in a separate Jan. 6 case against the leaders of the Proud Boys. 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.
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Before Thursday, the longest sentence in more than 1,000 Capitol riot cases was 14 years and two months for a man with a long 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.