A member of the far-right Oath Keepers was sentenced Friday to eight and a half years in prison for his role in the deadly attack on January 6, 2021 on the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump who tried to overthrow Joe Biden’s presidential election victory over the Republican.
Jessica Watkins was convicted in November by a federal jury in Washington of obstructing an official proceeding for her role in the storming of the Capitol, which saw rioters battle police, smash windows and send lawmakers running for their lives.
Watkins was also convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of officers during the riots.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said Friday it was “particularly difficult” to sentence Watkins after she testified at trial about the struggles she faced with her transgender identity and her cooperation with law enforcement officials during their investigation into her behavior in January. 6.
But he said it “doesn’t erase” what she did during the attack. “Your role that day was more aggressive, more attacking, more determined than maybe others,” Mehta said.
Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keeper convicted of obstructing an official proceeding, was also found guilty of conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory, as well as tampering with documents and procedures. He will be sentenced later on Friday.
Watkins and Harrelson were acquitted of seditious conspiracy charges.
Watkins told the judge: “My actions and my behavior on that fateful day were wrong and, as I now understand, criminal,” she said.
Friday’s court hearings took place a day after Mehta sentenced the oath-keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, to 18 years in prison for crimes including seditious conspiracy, or using violence to attempt to overthrow the federal government. It is the harshest sentence so far against those charged with the violence on January 6.
Founded by Rhodes in 2009, members of Oath Keepers include current and retired U.S. military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders.