A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the U.S. Capitol rioter nicknamed “QAnon Shaman,” for his horned headdress, to 41 months in prison for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack by former president Donald Trump’s followers.
Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to impose a longer 51-month sentence on Jacob Chansley, who pleaded guilty in September to obstructing an official proceeding when he and thousands of others stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election.
The sentence matches one imposed by a judge on a former mixed martial artist filmed punching a police officer during the violence, who was sentenced last week.
Lamberth said he believed Chansley, 34, had done a lot to convince the court he is “on the right track.”
Mental illness diagnosis
Chansley’s attorneys asked the judge for a sentence of time served for their client, who has been detained since his January arrest. He appeared in court in a dark green prison jumpsuit, with a beard and shaved head.
“The hardest part of this is that I know I am to blame,” Chansley said in a lengthy statement before he was sentenced, describing a difficult childhood and saying he had taken responsibility for his behaviour.
“I thought I was going to get 20 years solitary confinement,” he said.
While in detention, Chansley was diagnosed by prison officials with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. When he entered his guilty plea, Chansley said he was disappointed Trump had not pardoned him.
Defence lawyer Albert Watkins said the U.S. Navy in 2006 had found Chansley suffered from personality disorder but nonetheless declared him “fit for duty.”
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives and acquitted by the Senate on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 riot for a fiery speech that preceded it in which he told his followers to “fight like hell.”
Most of the guilty pleas in Jan. 6 prosecutions so far have been in cases involving non-violent misdemeanors, but government lawyers are seeking prison sentences for some defendants facing more serious felony charges.