Saturday, September 30, 2023

Fourth New Mexico Capitol Riot Defendant Sentenced


Last week, the fourth and final New Mexico man was sentenced for his participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Shawn Witzemann, formerly of Farmington, was sentenced last week to seven days of incarceration for illegally entering the Capitol at the Jan. 6, 2021 rally in support of former President Trump.

Witzemann was arrested in April 2021 and charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds as well as disorderly and disruptive conduct. Witzemann has always maintained that he was there as a 'citizen journalist' and originally pleaded not guilty. Then last summer, Witzemann changed his plea to guilty. The charge carried the potential for six months in federal prison and a $5,000 fine for restitution.

Witzemann says he was there as a journalist and filmed the rioters as they entered the Capitol through the Senate Wing door and later as they were in the Rotunda and an area called the Crypt, a vaulted space beneath the Rotunda. He later posted the footage to his social media pages. According to his plea agreement, he and other rioters approached a Capitol police officer and asked him to “Brother, stand with us.”

In addition to being sentenced for incarceration for seven days, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered that Witzemann serve two years probation, 60 hours of community service and pay a $500 restitution fee.

“After going through the building and finally being forced out essentially by the police, you went back to your hotel room and then said Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act and take over the country by force and the army,” Hogan said. “That comes close to sedition.”

Only one of the four defendants was acquitted of charges stemming from the Capitol riot. Former federal contractor for Los Alamos National Labs Matthew Martin was acquitted in April by the same judge who found Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin guilty on one charge of trespassing and was sentenced to 14 days in prison. Retired Army Lt. Colonel Leonard Gruppo of Clovis pleaded guilty last year. He was sentenced to 24 months of probation.


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