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Judge hopes sentence of Maryland man in Capitol riot case sends a message

A federal judge said Friday he hopes a three-month sentence behind bars in a U.S. Capitol insurrection case will send a message to other defendants who don’t seem to be “truly accepting responsibility.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan spoke as he sentenced Robert Reeder, a Maryland man who had originally described himself as an “accidental tourist” before video emerged of him grabbing a police officer.

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“It’s become evident to me that many of the defendants pleading guilty do not truly accept responsibility. They seem, to me, to be trying to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, stating whatever they have to say ... but not changing their attitude,” Hogan said.

He said he believed Reeder is sorry now and sentenced him to half of the six months prosecutors had wanted, but the judge said some of Reeder’s previous statements had been “disingenuous and self-serving.” Hogan said he hopes the sentence sends a signal that people convicted in the riot will face jail time.

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“This was an attack on the operations of Congress and the Capitol of the United States, a really sacrosanct building,” he said.

Reeder had been expected to get probation last month, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and saying he had not been involved in any violence that day. Then armchair detectives who call themselves Sedition Hunters unearthed the video online. Prosecutors said the recording captured an assault on an officer, though they opted not to file new charges.

Reeder said he touched or grabbed the officer’s shoulder, and forgot to mention it in previous FBI interviews where he voluntarily shared video with agents.

“Immediately after the interaction with the police officer I just wanted to get out of there. It just wasn’t me,” he said. “I’ve always been regretful and ashamed of being there, not because I’m in trouble but because I saw what happened and it was disgusting.”

Reeder was identified after the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent out images of those who breached the Capitol. The Harford County State’s Attorney’s office later submitted a tip to the FBI that Reeder had been identified using facial recognition software, according to court documents.

More than 630 people have been charged in the insurrection, where a pro-Trump mob beat and bloodied police in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The throng sent lawmakers running for their lives and caused $1 million damage.

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