An Iowa construction worker who was among the first rioters to enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, 36 months supervised release and $2,000 in restitution on Friday.
Des Moines native Doug Jensen — easily spotted in photos of the Capitol riot thanks to the “Q” t-shirt he wore that day, a tribute to the conspiratorial QAnon movement — addressed the court on Friday before sentencing, saying “I can’t change my past, I can just look to the future.”
He added that he does not intend to “get involved again in the judicial system” and that he wants to become “the father of a family that I was before I got involved in politics”.
Although U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly acknowledged mitigating factors — like Jensen’s mental health and dozens of supportive letters submitted to the court by friends and family — he was unconvinced by Jensen’s own plea. .
Jensen’s statement did not suggest he understood “why what happened was wrong,” Kelly said before sentencing.
Throughout the proceedings, Jensen frequently turned to his wife, April, for reassurance, giving a thumbs-up, blowing kisses and exasperated looks.
Jensen was convicted of obstructing an official process and six other criminal charges in September for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
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During his trial, prosecutors showed numerous videos and photographs of Jensen parading around the Capitol. The jury also heard testimony from law enforcement with whom he clashed in the building.
According to witness accounts and videos, Jensen chased United States Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman down a flight of stairs inside the building. Goodman later said the Iowa man encouraged his fellow rioters to “keep running” because the officer was “just one person – there are thousands of us.”
“Jensen was the rioter who wouldn’t back down,” prosecutors argued. “If it hadn’t all been recorded from at least 10 different angles, it would be pretty hard to believe.”
But Jensen’s attorney, Christopher Davis, argued that Jensen was “dressed in costume,” not “dressed for battle,” like some at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The COVID-19 pandemic “has done weird things to everybody,” perhaps Jensen more than others, Davis argued, repeatedly calling the Iowa rioter a “confused man.”
“He believed (QAnon),” Davis said. “He honestly believed it… There is no other explanation for what he did that day.”
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The Department of Justice called for a five-year sentence
The Justice Department has requested a 64-month prison sentence for Jensen, plus three years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine, according to court documents.
“(Jensen) came to Washington, D.C. prepared for violence, and when daylight approached, he played an important role in leading the violent mob past the police line, into the building, and through the hallways. of the Capitol,” prosecutors’ memo. said. The memo described Jensen as “a ringleader in the attack on the US Capitol.”
Arguing from the government’s sentencing recommendation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen described Jensen as a “leader” and recalled his self-description as a “poster boy” for the Capitol attack.
United States Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Loyd, who testified at Jensen’s trial in September, read a statement Friday, submitted earlier in court, saying that if Goodman had not acted that day- there, Jensen and other rioters would have done much more damage.
“If Constable Goodman had not led the accused and the rest of the crowd away from the Senate lobby and an attempt had been made to force those doors open, there would have been a tremendous bloodbath,” he said. Loyd said.
The defense asked for a 27-month sentence, arguing that Jensen is “an uneducated union worker who was overwhelmed by conspiracy theories.”
Jensen’s attorney told the judge before sentencing that his client had a “childhood of horrors” that began in infancy. “His childhood background influenced his belief system,” Jensen’s attorney added.
Speaking directly to Jensen, Judge Kelly said the Iowa man played a “starring role in getting the crowd going” on January 6.
“Who knows what would have happened if Agent Goodman hadn’t led you the other way?” said Kelly. “It’s a miracle that more people weren’t injured that day.”
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Defendants who attacked police officers on January 6 tended to receive longer sentences than other rioters. The longest was 10 years awarded to retired New York police officer and Navy veteran, Thomas Webster, who attacked and choked an officer.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 880 people in 48 states with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol, and arrests are continuing.