Washington — An off-duty Virginia police officer who, with a fellow officer was sentenced Thursday to greater than seven years in jail, matching the longest jail sentence to this point amongst a whole bunch of Capitol riot circumstances.
Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson declined to deal with the courtroom earlier than U.S. District Choose Christopher Cooper sentenced him to seven years and three months in jail. Cooper additionally sentenced Robertson to 3 years of supervised launch after his jail time period.
Federal prosecutors had really helpful an eight-year jail sentence for Robertson. His sentence, a Texas man who attacked the Capitol whereas armed with a holstered handgun.
Robertson will get credit score for the 13 months he has already spent in custody. Robertson has been jailed since Cooper dominated final yr that he violated the phrases of his pretrial launch by possessing firearms.
The choose stated he was troubled by Robertson’s conduct since his arrest – not solely his stockpiling of weapons but additionally his phrases advocating for violence. After Jan. 6, Robertson instructed a pal that he was ready to struggle and die in a civil struggle and he clung to baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, the choose famous.
that Robertson was initially freed on pretrial supervision, however was later detained after the federal government stated he allegedly had “a loaded M4 rifle and a partially-assembled pipe bomb at his dwelling, and by buying an arsenal of 34 firearms on-line and transporting them in interstate commerce.”
Sentencing pointers calculated by Cooper really helpful a jail time period starting from seven years and three months to 9 years.
“It is a very long time as a result of it displays the seriousness of the offenses that you simply had been convicted of,” the choose stated.
In April, a juryto hinder Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.
Jurors discovered Robertson responsible of all six counts in his indictment, together with prices that he interfered with law enforcement officials on the Capitol and that he entered a restricted space with a harmful weapon, a big wood stick.
Robertson’s legal professionals stated the Military veteran was utilizing the stick to assist him stroll as a result of he has a limp from getting shot in the fitting thigh whereas working as a personal contractor for the Protection Division in Afghanistan in 2011.
The choose stated he agreed with jurors that Robertson went to the Capitol to intrude with the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Robertson was an “energetic and prepared participant,” not “some bystander” who bought swept up within the crowd, Cooper stated.
Robertson traveled to Washington that morning with one other off-duty Rocky Mount police officer, Jacob Fracker, and a 3rd man, a neighbor who wasn’t charged within the case.
Fracker was scheduled to be tried alongside Robertson earlier than he pleaded responsible to a conspiracy cost in March and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities. Cooper is scheduled to condemn Fracker subsequent Tuesday.
Prosecutors have requested Cooper to spare Fracker from a jail time period and sentence him to 6 months of probation together with a interval of dwelling detention or “neighborhood confinement.” They stated Fracker’s “fulsome” cooperation and trial testimony was essential in securing convictions in opposition to Robertson.
Robertson’s lawyer, Mark Rollins, sought a jail sentence beneath two years and three months. He questioned the equity of the large hole in sentences that prosecutors really helpful for Robertson and Fracker given their comparable conduct.
Robertson served his nation and neighborhood with distinction, his lawyer instructed the choose.
“His life already is in shambles,” Rollins stated.
Robertson and Fracker had been amongst a number of present or former regulation enforcement officers who joined within the riot. Prosecutors say Robertson used his regulation enforcement and army coaching to dam law enforcement officials who had been making an attempt to carry off the advancing mob.
Assistant U.S. Legal professional Elizabeth Aloi stated Robertson was ready for violence when he went to the Capitol and did a “victory lap” contained in the constructing, the place he posed for a selfie with Fracker.
“The defendant is, by all accounts, happy with his conduct on Jan. 6,” she stated.
Jurors noticed a few of Robertson’s posts on social media earlier than and after the riot. In a Fb put up on Nov. 7, 2020, Robertson stated “being disenfranchised by fraud is my exhausting line.”
“I’ve spent most of my grownup life combating a counter insurgency. (I am) about to turn out to be a part of one, and a really efficient one,” he wrote.
In a letter addressed to the choose, Robertson stated he took full accountability for his actions on Jan. 6 and “any poor selections I made.” He blamed the vitriolic content material of his social media posts on a mixture of stress, alcohol abuse and “submersion in deep ‘rabbit holes’ of election conspiracy idea.”
“I sat round at evening ingesting an excessive amount of and reacting to articles and websites given to me by Fb” algorithms, he wrote.
The city fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot. Rocky Mount is about 25 miles south of Roanoke, Virginia, and has about 5,000 residents.
Roughly 850 folks have been charged with federal crimes for his or her conduct on Jan. 6. Greater than 350 of them have pleaded responsible, principally to misdemeanor offenses, and greater than 230 have been sentenced to this point.
Robertson’s jury trial was the second for a Capitol riot case; Reffitt’s was the primary.
Jurors have unanimously convicted seven Capitol rioters of all prices of their respective indictments.
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