The North Carolina woman who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 with her 14-year-old son has been sentenced to three months in jail.
Virginia “Jenny” Spencer, 38, will spend 90 days behind bars, followed by three years of probation. She will also pay $500 in restitution.
Spencer pleaded guilty in September to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building. She had also been charged with disorderly conduct and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
She and her husband Christopher Spencer, who is also facing criminal charges, travelled from North Carolina to Washington on Jan. 6. According to prosecutors, they were part of a caravan organized by a Twitter personality known as “Dr. ENoCH.”
Once they arrived in Washington, prosecutors say, they attended then-President Donald Trump‘s rally. After Trump announced that the group was going to march to the Capitol, the Spencers walked down Pennsylvania Avenue.
“During the march to the Capitol, the Spencers joined a smaller group who broke away and aggressively confronted a ‘counterprotestor’ who had expressed disagreement with marchers,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. “Specifically, the Spencers, with their child next to them, and others yelled at the lone counter-protestor. Mr. Spencer yelled, ‘Easy to talk shit behind the cops!’ The defendant yelled, ‘Look who’s protecting you…(indiscernible) behind the fuckin’ police!’ D.C. Metro Police physically broke up the encounter which was captured on body-worn camera.”
Spencer said that she and her husband didn’t intend to enter the Capitol, but found themselves unable to make their way out of the crowd of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election.
But while the Spencers tried to argue that they were essentially forced inside the Capitol, prosecutors said the evidence proved otherwise. Video shows them at various places inside the Capitol for more than 20 minutes, and prosecutors said that at no point did they appear to be actively searching for an exit.
Moreover, according to prosecutors, video showed that they participated in “multiple groups of rioters who broke through the police line and attempted to breach the House Chamber Door.”
With the Spencers the entire time was the couple’s minor son, then 14 years old—a fact that U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she found particularly disturbing.
“I also find it very hard to comprehend why you would bring a 14-year-old minor son to the Capitol,” said Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton appointee, at Friday’s sentencing hearing. “It must have been a traumatic experience [for him] to witness this kind of violence[.]”
Kollar-Kotelly told Spencer that her actions reflected “a complete lack of judgment.”
Kollar-Kotelly said that while Spencer apologized to the court and expressed remorse, she wasn’t entirely sure that Spencer truly understood the impact of her actions.
“My question, which I still have, is whether she’s accepted responsibility as to the significance of what she participated in,” Kollar-Kotelly said. “It was an insurrection, not just a protest … the goal [was] to stop the certification of the presidential election and the peaceful transition of power as guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Kollar-Kotelly said that even though Spencer and her family are facing the consequences of joining the mob on Jan. 6, it’s “not the same thing as recognizing the significance of her participation, and what it means for our democracy.”
Prosecutors had asked for a three-month prison sentence and three years of probation. Spencer’s attorney, Allen Orenberg, had asked for a sentence of 12 months of probation with a community service component.
Christopher Spencer’s case is ongoing, with a status conference set for Jan. 13.
Kollar-Kotelly said she would allow Spencer to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 25.
[Images via FBI.]
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