US District Judge Trevor McFadden has found former Los Alamos National Lab contractor Matthew Martin not guilty on four misdemeanor charges stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. This is the first case of an outright acquittal on all charges.
After a two-day bench trial, Martin was found not guilty after Judge McFadden felt Martin's testimony that Capitol police officers let him into the Capitol rotunda was a reasonable defense.
During the trial, Martin took the stand and claimed January 6 was a "magical day." Martin has claimed he attended the event after seeing tweets from former President Donald Trump that his followers should attend the "Stop the Steal" rally and prevent Congress from ratifying the election in favor of President Joe Biden. Prosecutors argued that there were many instances that Martin would have known he was in areas where he wasn't allowed to be after walking past fence signs saying "AREA CLOSED."
Martin's case is one of the first where defense attorneys are testing the waters with the theory that police allowed them to enter the Capitol, and that they didn't realize they shouldn't be there. Although not all defendants will be able to use the same defense, lawyers will be able to point to this acquittal as an example of what it would take to find a nonviolent participant who breached the Capitol guilty of a federal crime.
McFadden was nominated to the District Court by former President Donald Trump in 2017. Prior to his nomination, McFadden was serving as a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In March, Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffin was found guilty on one charge of criminal trespassing in March. His sentencing is set for June.
Shawn Witzemann is the third New Mexico man facing charges related to the riot. Witzemann is scheduled for a hearing next week.
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