Colleen Long | Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A Capitol rebel who attacked police officers working to contain an angry mob of Trump supporters was sentenced Friday to more than five years behind bars on Jan.6, the current maximum sentence for anyone convicted of rebellion.
Robert Palmer, 54, of Largo, Florida, cried when he told US District Judge Tana Chutkan that he had recently watched footage of his actions that day and could not believe what he saw.
“Your Honor. I am truly ashamed of what I have done,” he said through tears.
Palmer was one of several rioters convicted Friday by a DC court for their actions on the day an angry mob descended to sabotage evidence of Joe Biden’s victory after then-President Donald Trump’s rally. Dozens of police officers were beaten and bloody, five people died, and the US Capitol suffered nearly $ 1.5 million in damage. Palmer became the 65th defendant to be sentenced. More than 700 people have been charged.
A college student who, after climbing through a broken window in the Capitol, wrote on the Internet that “shame is as good as glory,” was sentenced to a month in prison for her actions. However, Gracene Courtright, 23, of Hurricane, West Virginia, did not harm anyone, and her sentence reflected that.
But Palmer made his way to the front lines during the chaos and began to attack, throwing a wooden plank, spraying a fire extinguisher, and then hurling it when it was done. According to the prosecutor’s office, he was looking for other items. The police briefly bombarded him with pepper spray before he attacked the police again with a pole. He pleaded guilty to assaulting officers.
In a handwritten letter to Judge Palmer, he said he felt betrayed by Trump and his allies, who fueled them with conspiracy theories.
“Trump supporters were lied to by those in power at the time,” he wrote. “They continued to spread false information about the stolen elections and that it was ‘our duty’ to resist tyranny.”
Palmer, who is being held at the DC jail in smelly conditions that prompted a review by authorities, said it was unfair to be punished so severely without the perpetrators even behind bars.
The judge agreed – to the point. “It is true that the people who extorted you from extortion, encouraged you and encouraged you to go and take action, were not charged,” she said. “This is not a court decision. I have my own opinion, but it is irrelevant. ”
Before Palmer was sentenced to 63 months, the longest prison term assigned to a Capitol rioter was 41 months. It was a sentence passed on both to Jacob Chansley, an Arizona resident who wore a horned fur hat, a bare chest, and a painted face in the Capitol; and New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlumb, the first person to be convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer during the riot.
“This should be clear … attempts to stop the peaceful transfer of power and attacks on law enforcement officials will be punished with some punishment,” the judge said. “There will be consequences. I am not making an example of you. I am sentencing you to punishment for the behavior you have committed. ”
Courtright, 23, from Hurricane, West Virginia, sobbed when she told US District Court Judge Christopher Cooper that “if I could get something back in my life, that would be my January 6th action.”
She posted pictures of herself online – like so many other rioters – reveling in the moment. “Can’t wait to tell my grandchildren that I have been here!” – she wrote, and in the Senate hall she was photographed with a sign “For Members Only”.
“I’ll never be the same girl again,” the University of Kentucky student said through her tears. “It completely changed me.”
After the riots, she plunged into social media when she was criticized for her actions, before ultimately deleting her accounts. Courtright is one of the youngest to be charged with the Capitol riot.
Her lawyer said Friday that she had no idea what she was doing and that she was not a political activist – she did not even vote in the elections, she was there to protest. The judge took advantage of this during his speech.
“Obviously, this is your choice, but in my opinion, if any citizen wants to participate in our democracy, voting is the price of admission,” he said. “Because when you do that, you have to study the problems and the candidates, find out their policies, find out how those policies affect your community.”
Participating in democracy is not the same as going to a University of Kentucky game and “cheering for a team just because of the color of their jerseys,” the referee said. “Of course, you can’t resort to violence when your team isn’t winning the game,” he told Courtright.
Cooper also noted that Courtright made it to the Senate courtroom around the time that Rep. Ashley Babbitt was shot.
“Do you know how many people died on January 6 and 5, including Miss Babbitt?” he asked. “Five.”
“Do you know how many Capitol police officers have committed suicide since January 6, after being injured that day? Four, the judge added. “Was it cool to be there?”
“No,” she replied emphatically.
However, the judge said the recommended six months in prison was too high and instead sentenced her to 30 days, one year of supervised release and 60 hours of community service.
He said he hoped she could pull her life together and that she “should not be judged by the worst mistake you have made in your life.”