Oath Keeper sentenced to eight and a half years for role in Capitol attack
Oath Keeper sentenced to eight and a half years for role in Capitol attack –
A member of the far-right Oath Keepers on Friday was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for her role in the deadly 6 January 2021 assault on the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump who tried to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory over the Republican.
Jessica Watkins was convicted in November by a federal jury in Washington of obstruction of an official proceeding for her role in the storming of the Capitol, which saw rioters battle police, smash windows and send lawmakers running for their lives.
Watkins was also convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of officers during the riots.
The US district judge Amit Mehta on Friday said it was “particularly hard” to issue a sentence for Watkins after she testified during trial about the struggles she faced with her transgender identity and her cooperation with law enforcement officials during their investigation of her conduct on January 6.
But he said that “doesn’t wipe out” what she did during the attack. “Your role that day was more aggressive, more assaultive, more purposeful than perhaps others,” Mehta said.
Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keeper convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, was also found guilty of conspiring to prevent members of Congress from certifying Biden’s election win as well as tampering with documents and proceedings. He will be sentenced later on Friday.
Watkins and Harrelson were acquitted of seditious conspiracy charges.
Watkins told the judge: “My actions and my behavior that fateful day were wrong and, as I now understand, criminal,” she said.
Friday’s court proceedings were taking place one day after Mehta sentenced the Oath Keepers’ founder, Stewart Rhodes, to 18 years in prison for crimes including seditious conspiracy, or using force to try to overthrow the federal government. That is the steepest penalty yet against those charged in the January 6 violence.
Members of the Oath Keepers, founded by Rhodes in 2009, include current and retired US military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders.