Judge Gives Oath Keeper Prison

Court expresses sympathy for difficulties faced by Jessica Watkins, a transgender Army veteran
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2023 1:35 PM CDT
Self-Described 'Idiot' Oath Keeper Sentenced
This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four others charged with seditious conspiracy in the Capitol attack, in Washington, Oct. 6, 2022. Shown above are, witness John Zimmerman, who was part of the Oath Keepers' North Carolina Chapter, seated in the witness stand,...   (Dana Verkouteren via AP)

Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers who described herself as "just another idiot running around the Capitol," has been sentenced to prison in the Jan. 6 attack. In imposing an 8½-year term on Friday, US District Judge Amit Mehta said he found her actions considered, CNN reports. "Your role that day was more aggressive, more assaultive, more purposeful than perhaps others'. And you led others to fulfill your purposes," he told Watkins. She was tried with, among others, Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, who also received prison sentences this week—Rhodes receiving 18 years and Meggs 12.

The judge assessed Watkins' place in the Oath Keepers hierarchy. "Nobody would suggest you're Stewart Rhodes, and frankly, I don't think you're Kelly Meggs," the judge said, per NBC News. But she was more than a foot soldier, he said. Rhodes and Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge facing them. Watkins was acquitted on that count but convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. She apologized to the court at her sentencing in Washington. "My actions and my behaviors that fateful day were wrong, and as I now understand, criminal," Watkins said. "Violence is never the answer."

In the same hearing, Kenneth Harrelson, an Oath Keeper from Florida, received a four-year sentence, with Mehta saying he was less culpable than his codefendants. Although Watkins was remorseful Friday, a prosecutor raised a phone call she'd made from jail after leading a small militia from Ohio wearing tactical gear against officers at the Capitol. "Boo hoo the poor little police officers, got a little PTSD," Alexandra Hughes told the court Watkins said in the call. Watkins, a transgender Army veteran, "has our sympathies" for the difficulties she's faced, Alex Hughes said, "but she does not have an excuse." Mehta said Watkins has demonstrated "a great deal of courage and resilience" in her life. "It makes it all the more hard for me to understand the lack of empathy for those who suffered that day," he said. (More Capitol riot stories.)

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