Former soldier and far-right group member Jessica Watkins has been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for her role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. She was found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to keep former President Donald Trump in power and hinder the work of police officers during the attack. Watkins also “guided” other people during the assault, a fact noted by Judge Amit Mehta in the reading of the sentence. Despite the difficulties Watkins had faced due to her transgender identity, the judge found that her aggressive participation in the plot made her sentence necessary. Watkins was previously acquitted of conspiracy to commit sedition, but this time was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
Watkins’ sentence comes a day after the sentences for the founder of Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, and another member of the group, Kelly Meggs, were made public. Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years, while Meggs will serve 12 years. In all, more than 540 people have been arrested for their roles in the attack on the US Capitol.
During her sentencing, Watkins expressed remorse, acknowledging that her actions that day were wrong and criminal. Her lawyer asked for a five-year sentence, but the prosecution requested 18 years. The judge ultimately settled on eight and a half years, noting that while Watkins was not the same as Rhodes or Meggs, her role in the events leading up to and during the attack was greater than that of a simple soldier.
The assault on the Capitol left five people dead and more than 140 officers injured as supporters of Trump stormed the Congressional headquarters during the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. The sentences for Watkins, Rhodes, and Meggs are seen as a significant step towards holding those responsible for the attack accountable for their actions.