Court Battles

Judge goes beyond prosecutors’ request with sentence for Jan. 6 couple

A U.S. district judge on Wednesday issued a sentence against a couple who took part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that went beyond what prosecutors recommended, giving them jail time.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had asked that Brandon Miller and his wife Stephanie Miller be sentenced to home confinement as part of a 36-month probationary period. The Ohio couple was charged with entering the Capitol, with Brandon Miller livestreaming their actions on Facebook.

As WUSA reported, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled, however, that their actions warranted time behind bars.

“They didn’t just walk through a door. They climbed through a broken window … they knew full well of the violence that had preceded their entry,” Chutkan said. “The fact is that they were part of a mob … that was intent on stopping the lawful transfer of power.”

“It amounted to an attempted overthrow of the government,” she added. “I don’t believe that’s hyperbole.”

Brandon Miller was sentenced to 20 days in jail, and Stephanie Miller was sentenced to 14 days.

“The country is watching,” Chutkan said. “There have to be consequences for participating in the attempted violent overthrow of the government.”

WUSA noted that prosecutors showed Facebook messages from the couple in which Stephanie Miller wrote that she “enjoyed every part of what we did and was a part of.”

“We’re hoping we don’t get charges, but we’ll proudly take them if so,” she wrote.

An attorney for the couple told the court that they had lived hard lives and had already suffered from ostracism from their community over the insurrection, with Brandon Miller’s grandmother apparently refusing to speak with him.

Chutkan, appointed by former President Obama, said that while she had heard how many Jan. 6 defendants have suffered following the Capitol attack, few have spoken about the people who were inside the building when it was invaded.

“I never hear any remorse for the people who suffered that day,” Chutkan said, according to WUSA. “For the police officers who lost their lives. For the people who worked in that building who were terrified they’d never see their families again. All I hear about is how the defendants suffered.”

This is not the first time Chutkan has gone beyond what prosecutors have asked for in cases against Jan. 6 defendants. In October, she sentenced two cousins — Robert Bauer and Edward Hemenway — to 45 days in jail after prosecutors had asked for 30.

Earlier this year in August, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell suggested that prosecutors were being too lenient on alleged Jan. 6 rioters. Howell questioned why the DOJ was only charging $2,000 fines for felony cases and $500 for misdemeanor ones in plea deals reached with Jan. 6 defendants.

“I’m accustomed to the government being fairly aggressive in terms of fraud when there have been damages that accrue from a criminal act for the restitution amount,” Howell said at the time.

“Where we have Congress acting, appropriating all this money due directly to the events of January 6th, I have found the damage amount of less than $1.5 million — when all of us American taxpayers are about to foot the bill for close to half a billion dollars — a little bit surprising.”

Tags Barack Obama Capitol breach Capitol insurrection Capitol riot Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jan. 6 capitol riot Tanya Chutkan
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