2 Extra Oath Keepers Sentenced to Jail Over Jan. 6 Breach

Two Military veterans and members of the Oath Keepers have been handed jail sentences following the group’s founder’s conviction for his or her involvement within the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. District Decide Amit Mehta presided over the sentencing, with Jessica Watkins, a resident of Woodstock, Ohio, receiving a jail time period of eight years and 6 months. Kenneth Harrelson, from Titusville, Florida, was sentenced to 4 years.

The convictions of Watkins and Harrelson by a federal jury included expenses of obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 elections. Harrelson confronted further expenses of tampering with paperwork and proceedings, whereas Watkins was additionally discovered responsible of conspiracy and obstruction of officers through the breach.

Nonetheless, each defendants have been acquitted of the seditious conspiracy cost that Oath Keeper’s founder Stewart Rhodes was discovered responsible of in November 2022.

These sentences are a part of the Division of Justice’s (DOJ) intensive investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and violence. They arrive after Rhodes obtained the longest jail time period among the many circumstances associated to the occasions of that day.

Whereas the DOJ argued that Rhodes and the opposite Oath Keepers’ actions could possibly be categorized as “terrorism,” which might result in extra extreme sentences below federal tips, Decide Mehta in the end imposed shorter jail phrases. The prosecution had sought 18 years for Watkins and 15 years for Harrelson.

‘Demolished My Life’

In line with Mehta, Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers who identifies as transgender, held a place past that of a mere foot soldier, having recruited others for the group.

Watkins tearfully expressed regret, condemning the violence towards cops and acknowledging that being on the Capitol could have influenced others, saying “I used to be simply one other fool operating across the Capitol” on Jan. 6.

Kenneth Harrelson, one other Oath Keepers member, knowledgeable the decide that he traveled to Washington, D.C., after being provided a safety job by a fellow member. Harrelson claimed to have no real interest in politics, stating that he had by no means voted for a president in his life. He broke down in tears, admitting duty for the immense ache triggered to his household and expressing regret for his actions.

“I’ve completely demolished my life,” he stated. “I’m accountable, and my silly actions have triggered immense ache to my spouse and our kids.”

Mehta thought-about Harrelson to be genuinely remorseful and fewer culpable than different Oath Keepers. The proof introduced didn’t present any extremist messages or bodily assaults on or threats towards regulation enforcement officers. The decide emphasised that Harrelson’s messages didn’t comprise revolutionary content material “that anybody would take into account extremist.”

Authorities Allegations

The DOJ stated that in response to the federal government’s proof, prosecutors relied on proof from encrypted chat statements that exposed the Oath Keepers allegedly conspired for months to disrupt the counting of Electoral School votes on Jan. 6.

The protection argued that their shoppers’ speech was protected by the First Modification, however the decide decided that it could possibly be thought-about “speech in a conspiracy.”

Prosecutors stated the Oath Keepers organized groups, recruited members, performed paramilitary coaching, and introduced weapons and kit to the Capitol grounds. Their aim was to allegedly hinder the certification of the electoral faculty vote by breaching and taking management of the Capitol constructing.

On Jan. 6, round 2:30 p.m., Harrelson and Watkins, accompanied by different Oath Keepers and associates, marched in a stacked formation up the east steps of the Capitol carrying paramilitary apparel and patches displaying the Oath Keepers’ title, in response to the DOJ. They joined a bigger crowd and entered the Capitol constructing whereas Rhodes and one other co-defendant remained outdoors, coordinating actions.

The DOJ stated that whereas some Oath Keepers breached the Capitol, different people belonging to fast response power (QRF) groups remained stationed outdoors the town. These QRF groups have been ready to move firearms and weapons swiftly to Washington to help operations geared toward utilizing power to stop the lawful switch of presidential energy.

In the course of the trial, Rhodes testified that the Oath Keepers have been in Washington to offer occasion and VIP safety at permit-approved gatherings. He claimed that upon studying of the violence on the Capitol, he ordered all Oath Keepers to keep away from the constructing. Rhodes himself didn’t enter the Capitol or interact in any acts of violence.

The Related Press contributed to this report.