Marine Capitol Rioter Gets Symbolic Sentence

An hour of community service for each of 279 Marines who died in the Civil War
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2023 3:00 AM CDT
Marine Capitol Rioter Gets Symbolic Sentence
FILE- In this image from U.S. Capitol Police video, Joshua Abate, circled in green, Micah Coomer, circled in red, and Dodge Dale Hellonen, circled in blue, appear inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.   (Justice Department via AP, File)

One of three active-duty Marines who stormed the US Capitol together was sentenced on Monday to probation and 279 hours of community service—one hour for every Marine who was killed or wounded fighting in the Civil War, the AP reports. US District Judge Ana Reyes said she can't fathom why Dodge Hellonen violated his oath to protect the Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic"—and risked his career—by joining the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that disrupted Congress from certifying President Biden's 2020 electoral victory. "I really urge you to think about why it happened so you can address it and ensure it never happens again," Reyes said.

Hellonen, now 24, was the first of the three Marines to be punished for participating in the Capitol siege. Reyes also is scheduled to sentence co-defendants Micah Coomer on Tuesday and Joshua Abate on Wednesday; all three pleaded guilty earlier this year. The three Marines—friends from the same unit—drove together from a military post in Virginia to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, when then-President Trump spoke at his "Stop the Steal" rally near the White House. They joined the crowd that stormed the Capitol after Trump urged his supporters to "fight like hell." None of them is accused of engaging in any violence or destruction on Jan. 6. But prosecutors said none of them has expressed sincere remorse for their crimes.

Before imposing Hellonen's sentence, Reyes described how Marines fought and died in some of the fiercest battles in American history. She recited the number of casualties from some of the bloodiest wars. Prosecutors recommended short terms of incarceration—30 days for Coomer and 21 days for Hellonen and Abate—along with 60 hours of community service. Reyes said she agreed with prosecutors that Hellonen's status as an active-duty Marine does not weigh in favor of a more lenient sentence. But she ultimately decided to spare him from a prison term, sentencing him to four years of probation. "I take full responsibility for my actions and I'll carry this with me for the rest of my life," Hellonen told the judge.

(Read more Capitol riot stories.)

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