Capitol rioter who put feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk is sentenced to over 4 years : NPR
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
WASHINGTON — An Arkansas man who injured his leg on a desk in then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office in a photo spread by the U.S. Capitol riot was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in prison.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett became one of the faces of the January 6 uprising by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and US District Judge Christopher Cooper said when he announced that -sentence that Barnett seemed to sometimes enjoy notoriety.
“All the people who follow ‘Bigo’ need to know the actions of January 6th cannot be repeated without some serious repercussions,” Cooper said, alluding to the media attention and social media following Barnett attracted after the riot.
The 54-month sentence for Barnett, a retired firefighter from Gravette, Arkansas, comes after he was convicted at trial on eight charges, including felony counts of civil disorder and obstructing official proceedings, in this case 6 of ‘ January 2021, a session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Photos of Barnett looking like a desk in Pelosi’s office made him one of the most memorable figures from the riot. Barnett, 63, testified that he was “going with the flow” and took a stand after news photographers told him to “act natural”.
He told the judge that joining the riot was “an enigma in my life” that he regretted, but said that the prosecutors wanted him to be “regretful for things I didn’t do”.
“January 6th was a traumatic day for everyone, not just law enforcement,” he said. He promised to appeal his conviction. He testified in the trial that he was swept along with the crowd in the Capitol, and was looking for a bathroom when he unwittingly entered Pelosi’s office and met two news photographers.
Cooper, however, said he doesn’t believe Barnett played such a passive role.
It was established during the trial that Barnett brought into the Capitol a spiked stun gun, hidden in a collapsible walking stick. Barnett also took a piece of Pelosi’s mail and left behind a note that read, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” and posted the message with a sexist slur.
Before leaving the Capitol grounds, Barnett used a bullhorn to address the crowd, shouting, “You took us back to our house, and you took Nancy Pelosi’s office!” according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also said Barnett has since posted a “falsehood” on social media about January 6 and downplayed his role. “The accused still believes that he can say or do what he wants and if someone else is threatened by it, that is their problem,” said prosecutor Alison Prout.
Defense attorney Jonathan Gross said Barnett did not injure anyone or damage property, and was being singled out because the photo had made him famous.
“Mr Barnett should not be punished because the government thinks he is a symbol,” he said.
Cooper’s sentence was reduced to about seven years sought by prosecutors, although it was more than defense lawyers had requested for a 12-month term.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. A little over 500 of them were convicted. More than half received prison sentences ranging from one week to more than 14 years.
Also on Wednesday, a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of assault and other charges in the riot. Prosecutors said Robert Morss, of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, wore fatigues and tried to take a baton from an officer, and stole a riot shield from another, while he was working to organize members of the crowd to push the -guardians of the Capitol. He shouted to the officers: “Take a look around. We will take our Capitol back,” say the prosecutors.
A lawyer for Morss, aged 29, refused to comment after his sentence was handed down. His attorney, Nick Smith, noted in court documents that his client saw three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a member of the Army and has already served two years behind bars. Morss alleges that he was abused by prison guards.
“This case has already turned Morss’ life upside down. The government’s suggestion that these heavy blows are not enough to deter the one-time, situational crimes that Morss committed is nonsense,” he wrote Smith.