National Security

Capitol riot defendant who testified before Jan. 6 committee sentenced to probation

Jan. 6 rioter Stephen Ayres of Ohio testifies during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 focusing on the ties between former President Trump and far-right extremist groups.
Greg Nash
Jan. 6 rioter Stephen Ayres of Ohio testifies during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 focusing on the ties between former President Trump and far-right extremist groups.

A judge on Thursday sentenced Stephen Ayres, who entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and testified before the House panel investigating the attack, to two years of probation.

Ayres’s attorney cited his client’s testimony before the committee as reason for the judge to grant leniency in his sentencing, requesting no jail time. The government had requested he serve 60 days in jail.

The judge also ordered Ayres to pay a $500 fine.

Ayres testified before the House panel in July, saying he came to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 after former President Trump called for his supporters to gather on social media. 

He added that he didn’t plan to go to the Capitol but did so because of Trump’s remarks in which he encouraged rallygoers to do so.

“The president, you know, got everybody riled up, told everybody head on down. So we basically were just following what he said,” Ayres testified.

Following the hearing, he apologized to police officers in the room who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Ayres’s defense referenced his testimony in their sentencing memorandum asking the judge to not grant the government’s request for him to serve 60 days incarceration.

“Such a sentence protects the community, promotes respect for the law, and deters future crime by imposing restrictions on his liberty as a consequence of his behavior, while recognizing his acceptance of responsibility for his crime,” the government wrote in its sentencing request.

Ayres’s defense argued Ayres “courageously provided a public face” for Capitol rioters at the hearing, stressing that he regrets his participation in the riot.

“Most importantly, from the Committee’s perspective, he provided a voice for those like him – those who trusted a President who betrayed them and suffered very real consequences,” Ayres’s attorney wrote. “He didn’t make excuses – he apologized. And in the Select Committee’s eyes, helped the nation to understand what happened that day.”

About 870 defendants have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, according to George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, which has been tracking the legal proceedings. Nearly 400, including Ayres, have pleaded guilty as of earlier this month.

Tags Jan. 6 Capitol riot Jan. 6 hearings stephen ayres Trump
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