On January 6, participants express remorse in court, pride in public | Crime news

After pleading guilty to a felony in a deadly riot at the United States Capitol, former West Virginia Rep. Derrick Evans appeared before a federal judge expressed remorse for letting his family and community down, saying he had made a “crucial mistake”.

Less than a year later, Evans is portraying himself as the victim of a politically motivated prosecution as he runs to serve in the same building he stormed on January 6, 2021. Evans now calls the US Department of Justice’s prosecution of the attack a “miscarriage of justice” and describes himself on Twitter as as “J6 Patriot”.

“Some people said I have to apologize and condemn #J6 if I want to win the election because the media will attack me,” he tweeted recently, after announcing his candidacy for the US House of Representatives in 2024. “I will not compromise my values or beliefs. That’s what politicians do. We need patriots, not politicians.”

Evans joins a string of defendants since Jan. 6 who, facing possible prison terms, have expressed regret in court for joining a mob that shook the foundations of American democracy, only to strike a different tone or downplay the riots after being sentenced.

Thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump surrounded the Capitol during riots on January 6, breaking into the building in an attempt to reverse the Republican defeat in the 2020 election. As of last month, the Justice Department estimates that more than 950 participants have been arrested.

But the first defendant, who was sentenced on January 6, apologized in court and then went on the Fox News Channel and appeared to downplay the riot. Another defendant who called Jan. 6 “horrible and disgusting” later donned an orange jumpsuit to play a distraught inmate in a bizarre tribute to jailed rebels at the Capitol during a conservative conference.

Some defendants have drawn the ire of judges and the Department of Justice for their inconsistent comments. But the legal system can’t do much for a convicted defendant. And since some conservatives view the January 6th defendants as martyrs, there is political incentive for them to change their tune.

This could force judges to impose harsher sentences on miscreants who have not yet reached the end of their criminal cases. Even before Evans was sentenced, the judge hearing his case began to doubt the sincerity of the rioter’s apology after he felt duped by another defendant, saying he was “too familiar with crocodile tears”.

In some cases, judges questioned whether they should overturn convictions or plea deals after defendants made statements in public that appeared to contradict what they said in court.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ordered an Illinois man sentenced this week to explain why a judge should not overturn his conviction after he agreed in court that he participated in the riot and then told a newspaper that he didn’t really mean it. that he committed the crimes for which he is charged.

Before he was sentenced in June to three months behind bars on civil disorder charges, Evans said he regretted his actions every day and told Senior Judge Royce Lamberth he was “a good person who was unfortunately caught in the moment”.

Soon after, however, prosecutors wrote to the judge about several statements Evans made on a radio show that were “inconsistent with the remorse” he showed at sentencing.

When asked if he felt remorse for his actions, Evans told the show that he was sorry for the “situation” he was in. But he said he would “never have any regrets when it comes to standing up and doing what’s right.”

Evans said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that he still stands by what he said in court. “That was my message to the judge,” he wrote. “This is my message to the media. It’s time to tell the real story of what happened to me personally that day.”

Evans said he lost “almost everything,” including his job as a state legislator and time with his children, because of his decision to take part in the Jan. 6 attack. “How could I not regret it?” he asked.

But he said he was “done with portraying the villain” even though he wasn’t, pointing out that he didn’t run over any police officers and was only inside the Capitol for 10 minutes.

When determining an appropriate sentence, judges generally consider whether defendants have taken responsibility for their actions and appear genuinely sorry. In some cases since January 6, judges have faulted defendants for failing to show genuine remorse even before they were sentenced.

An attorney for Trennis Evans III, who took a swig of whiskey in a congressional meeting room during the disturbance, told the judge in court documents that his client is “genuinely and properly remorseful.”

But after Trennis Evans suggested at sentencing in November that the defendants had been treated unfairly since January 6, although he said he condemned what happened that day, the judge said she did not believe he had shown “full and genuine remorse”. .

Months after being ordered to serve 20 days in jail, the Texas man traveled to South Dakota to urge state lawmakers to support a resolution encouraging “humane and fair treatment” of defendants on Jan. 6. The resolution failed unanimously.

The first defendant to be sentenced Jan. 6, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, told Lamberth she was ashamed of the “savage display of violence” at the Capitol before the judge sentenced her to probation. However, soon after, an Indiana woman told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that people were “very polite” during the riots and that she saw “relaxed” police officers talking to the rioters.

Lamberth clearly hasn’t forgotten about her comments. The judge wrote in court documents that he hoped the second defendant’s “change of heart” was sincere because his hopes had been “shattered” in the Morgan-Lloyd case.

Morgan-Lloyd’s lawyer said she believed her client was genuinely remorseful and had been “played” by Ingraham. She also said Morgan-Lloyd sent the judge a letter after her TV interview. When contacted by The Associated Press, Morgan-Lloyd’s attorney said her client would not comment.

After avoiding jail time in his case on Jan. 6, right-wing activist Brandon Straka donned an orange jumpsuit, sat in a mock jail cell and performatively cried at a procession of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas last August. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, entered the cage and hugged Straka before they emerged to pray together.

Months earlier, with a possible prison sentence hanging over his head, Straka called January 6 “nothing more than an incredibly shameful day that had absolutely no positive attributes.”

“I regret that I was in any way present at an event that caused people to fear, that caused shame and embarrassment in our country and that had no other purpose than to further break down the already heartbreaking divisions in this country,” he wrote. is in a letter to US District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who sentenced him to 36 months of probation.

Straka, who is from Nebraska, was sent an email seeking comment. He said his performance in Dallas was meant to “provoke a backlash against political divisions, human rights abuses and more” and accused critics of trying to “criminalize art”.

Since the sentencing, the judge has questioned whether Straka wants to withdraw his guilty plea. She said Straka could open himself up to prosecution for making false statements because of public comments that appeared to contradict things he said in court.

A written statement of the crime — which Straka agreed was true under his plea agreement — says he yelled, “Take it! Take it!” while filming others trying to grab the officer’s shield. Straka later told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he told his lawyer he never made the comment. He suggested he admitted it because he was under pressure to accept the deal.

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