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Oath Keeper Ohio woman jailed for January 6th capitol raid

WASHINGTON (AP) – The founder of a far-right extremist group was sentenced to prison on Friday for two veterans who stormed the Capitol building in a military-style formation with members of the Orth Keepers. was sentenced to imprisonment. A record 18 years imprisonment In the attack on January 6, 2021.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Jessica Watkins of Woodstock, Ohio, to eight years and six months in prison, and Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, Florida, to four years in prison.

A federal jury has acquitted Watkins and Harrelson of sedition conspiracy charges brought by Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rose. Convicted in November. But on January 6, jurors convicted Watkins and Harrelson on other charges, including obstructing Congress from recognizing President Joe Biden’s victory.

Rose’s 18-year sentence is the longest sentence ever handed down in the hundreds of Capitol riots. The charges against the leaders of the Oath Keepers and another extremist group, the Proud Boys, are among the most serious of the Justice Department’s major riot investigations.

Mehta agreed with the Justice Department that the actions of Rose and the other Oathkeepers could be punishable as “terrorism” and could increase recommended sentences under federal guidelines.

But the judge ultimately gave Watkins and Harrelson much less time than prosecutors had asked for. The Justice Department was seeking 18 years in prison for Watkins and 15 years for Harrelson.

Watkins and Harrelson, along with other members of the Oathkeepers, marched in “file formation” toward the Capitol as crowds of Trump supporters clashed with outnumbered police officers. Harrelson was the organization’s “ground team leader” on Jan. 6. Watkins, who formed another Ohio-based militia, recruited others to join the Oath Keepers in Washington that day.

Mehta said Watkins wasn’t a top leader like Rose, but was more than just an “infantryman” and at least three people would have been charged with the riot if she hadn’t recruited them to join the riot. pointed out that he would not have been there. .

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

Watkins tearfully apologized for her actions before the judge handed down her sentence. She condemned the mob violence that assaulted police, but admitted that her presence in the Capitol “probably gave those people some provocation”. On January 6, she described herself as “just an idiot running around the Capitol.”

“And today you will hold this fool to account,” she told the judge.

A judge said Watkins’ personal story of having struggled to come to terms with her identity as a transgender woman for years prompted her on Jan. 6 to explain why she had a “lack of empathy for those who are suffering.” , making it particularly difficult to understand why. testified in court She was unemployed in the Army after a fellow soldier found evidence of her hiding her identity from her parents while being raised as a strict Christian and of her contacts with transgender advocacy groups. about that.

Harrelson told the judge he went to Washington because he was offered a “security job” by another Oathkeeper, but said he had never voted for president in his life and had no interest in politics. Some of the Orth Keepers guarded Trump ally Roger Stone and other right-wing figures at pre-riot events.

“I have completely ruined my life,” he said, breaking down in tears. “I am responsible and my foolish actions have caused his wife and children immeasurable pain.”

Mehta said he disagreed with the government’s portrayal of Harrelson as a “mid-level organizer” of Oath Keepers. The judge said that Harrelson, unlike many other members of the group charged with assault, did not send messages that “could be seen as extremist by anyone.”

But the judge said he was most impressed with Mr Harrelson beating up police on his way out of the Capitol.

“You weren’t there that day just because you were involved,” the judge told him.

During the nearly two-month trial in federal court in Washington, Mr. Watkins and other Oath Keepers lawyers argued that there was no plan to attack the Capitol. On the witness stand, Mr. Watkins told jurors he had no intention of interfering with the authentication and that he had never heard an order to enter the building for himself or the other Oathkeepers.

Evidence presented to jurors indicated that after the 2020 election, Mr. Watkins sent messages about “military-style basics” training to those who expressed interest in joining Ohio’s militia. It is She told one of her recruits that by her inauguration on January 20, 2021, she hopes to “fight well.”

On Jan. 6, Mr. Watkins and other oathkeepers, wearing helmets and other paramilitary gear, were seen pushing through the crowd and forming military formations up the steps of the Capitol. During the riot, she communicated with others on a channel called “Stop the Steal J6” on the walkie-talkie app Zello, declaring, “We are now in the main dome.”

Harrelson yelled, “Rebel!” An adjective to parliamentarians, prosecutors said as they entered the Capitol on January 6.

Another co-defendant, Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison for sedition conspiracy and other charges.

Rose, 58, of Granbury, Texas, was incited on Jan. 6 by prosecutors alleging a week-long conspiracy to block the forced transition of power from former President Donald Trump to Biden. He became the first defendant to be convicted of conspiracy and sentenced. Four other Oathkeepers convicted A second trial in January is scheduled to hand down a sedition charge next week.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Mr. Rose defiantly described himself as a “political prisoner,” criticized prosecutors and the Biden administration, and tried to downplay his Jan. 6 actions. The judge said Rose was clearly a “wanted and continuing threat to the United States.” Democracy in this country will turn into violence. ”

This week’s Oathkeepers ruling could provide guidance to prosecutors in a separate Jan. 6 lawsuit against the Proud Boys leader. early this month, Another Jury Convicts Former Proud Boys National Chairman Enrique Tario There were also three leaders of a sedition conspiracy group that prosecutors claimed was another conspiracy to keep Trump in the White House.

By Thursday, the longest prison sentence among more than 1,000 Capitol riots was 14 years and two months for a man with a long criminal record who attacked police officers with pepper spray and chairs as they stormed the Capitol. rice field. More than 500 of the defendants have been sentenced and more than half have been sentenced to prison terms.

https://www.nbc4i.com/news/state-news/ohio-woman-among-oath-keepers-sentenced-to-prison-terms-for-jan-6-capitol-attack/ Oath Keeper Ohio woman jailed for January 6th capitol raid

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