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US Capitol attack: first defendant in 6 January riot expected to be sentenced

US Capitol attack: first defendant in 6 January riot expected to be sentenced

Three years of probation, 40 hours of community service and $500.

That is the punishment federal prosecutors have requested for the first Capitol rioter expected to be sentenced in court, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old Donald Trump supporter from Indiana.

“Best day ever. We stormed the capitol building,” Morgan-Lloyd wrote on Facebook on 6 January, prosecutors said. She added that she and her friend “were in the first 50 people in”, authorities said.

With nearly 500 people already arrested and charged for their roles in the 6 January attack, the sentencing of Morgan-Lloyd, a grandmother from a small town in Indiana with no known connections to extremist groups, will be the first indication of what kinds of sentences federal judges may impose on the hundreds of people who invaded the Capitol during the official certification of Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

While some members of extremist groups are facing more serious conspiracy charges for allegedly planning the violence at the Capitol in advance, and others are facing charges for assaulting law enforcement officers, many defendants, like Morgan-Lloyd, are facing only misdemeanor charges.

Morgan-Lloyd has agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building,” which carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment, and is scheduled to be sentenced by a federal judge on Wednesday afternoon.

US Capitol attack: first defendant in 6 January riot expected to be sentenced

In a sentencing memo, federal prosecutors said Morgan-Lloyd and her friend Donna Sue Bissey were inside one hallway of the Capitol for a little over 10 minutes, that she did not engage in any acts of violence or destroy any government property, and that she did not appear to have planned her actions in advance or coordinated with any extremist groups.

In a letter to the court, prosecutors said, the 49-year-old took responsibility for her actions, and wrote, “At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did.”

Because she had no previous criminal record, Morgan-Lloyd quickly confessed to her participation and cooperated with law enforcement, and later expressed regret for what she had done, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo, they believed it was appropriate to request no prison time for Morgan-Lloyd, only an extended period of probation, community service, and a $500 restitution payment towards the nearly $1.5m in damages the Capitol building sustained during the invasion.

“I think she’s learned a lot,” Morgan-Lloyd’s attorney, Heather Shaner, told the Guardian. “This has been a trauma for her, and she knows it was a trauma for the United States of America that people did what they did, and she would never do it again.”

Shaner said that her client was “from a very small town and has had very limited life exposure”, and that she believed that many of the people who participated in the Capitol riots were “were uninformed or misinformed”.

“She’s a very fine woman, and I hope she gets probation,” Shaner said.

Prosecutors wrote that Morgan-Lloyd spent “approximately two days” incarcerated after she was initially arrested in February and that the time inside the criminal justice system was likely “eye-opening” and a deterrent to any future criminal behavior.

The conditions of her probation should include barring her owning firearms, prosecutors requested.

Unlike most federal defendants, who typically remain in detention before trial, the vast majority of people charged in the Capitol riots have already been released, a Guardian analysis found. The stark contrast in pretrial detention rates has prompted questions about whether the predominantly white Capitol defendants were getting different treatment from prosecutors and judges than most federal defendants, who are Black and Latino.

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