Rioter found guilty after climbing US Capitol wall on January 6
(CNN) — A rioter who asked “where those pieces of sh-t at?” during the breach of the US Capitol was convicted by a Washington, DC jury in federal district court Thursday for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack.
Matthew Bledsoe, a Memphis-area businessowner, was found guilty on five counts, including the felony of obstructing an official proceeding.
Bledsoe, 38, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, though he will likely receive a lighter sentence. He will be sentenced in October.
Bledsoe shook his head as the jury delivered each verdict.
While testifying Wednesday, Bledsoe said that, at the time, he thought January 6 was “pretty peaceful” and a “fun experience.” Bledsoe did add, however, that is no longer his perception of the day.
Bledsoe also blamed police officers for not stopping the rioters, telling the jury that “it felt like we were being let in” by police officers at the Capitol. “Ninety to 95% of the people wouldn’t have gone in if they [police] would have said something,” he said.
Defense attorney Jerry Smith argued his client, whom he referred to as a “loudmouth,” did not intend to disrupt the certification of electoral college votes and that he merely believed the Capitol riot was a continuation of former President Donald Trump’s rally at the ellipse.
“He came to demonstrate the same way millions of people have come to our city over the years,” Smith said.
According to texts sent by the defendant and testimony from the trial, Bledsoe scaled a wall on the West side of the Capitol.
“I chose the challenge of going up the wall,” he said. Bledsoe added that he could have gone up stairs, but climbing “seemed funner for me at the time.”
During cross-examination, prosecutor Jamie Carter asked if climbing walls was a normal way to enter a building accessible to the public, to which Bledsoe replied, “It wasn’t a normal day.”
According to video presented in the trial, Bledsoe entered the Capitol through a broken door while claiming the Capitol as “our house” and asking, “where those pieces of sh-t at?”
Chief Justice Beryl Howell did not seem convinced by Smith’s argument that Bledsoe was unaware he was on restricted grounds. In response to Smith asking her to drop the charges against Bledsoe, she said a “rational jury could very well find this defendant guilty of every charge” and added she believed he knew the Capitol was closed to the public.
“Based on his texts, he fully understood what was going on in Congress that day,” she said. “He was there to stop what he believed was a stolen election.”
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