Duke Edward Wilson, a 68-year-old logger from the small city of Nampa, told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth that he didn’t remember many of his actions. Prosecutors said he attacked at least three officers in a tunnel in the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.
Lamberth said the 51-month sentence — the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines — was necessary because the insurrection was "a horrible day for our country."
"It’s a message that the court has to send, that our country cannot deal with that," Lamberth said.
The federal judges overseeing the hundreds of cases against those accused of participating in the insurrection have heard a litany of excuses and expressions of remorse from those convicted during dozens of sentencings held so far.
More than 700 people have been charged with crimes connected to the Capitol siege, and more than 200 of them have pleaded guilty.
Besides Wilson, at least five other defendants have been sentenced for assaulting police and most received prison sentences ranging from 41 to 63 months.
Wilson pleaded guilty last September to assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and obstructing an official proceeding, both felonies.
In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop several other related charges. Wilson and his attorney, Charles Peterson, did not physically appear in court for the sentencing hearing at a Washington, D.C. federal court and called in to it from Peterson’s Boise, Idaho office.
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell told the judge during the hearing that he is still suffering from the injuries he suffered after Wilson’s attack, underwent surgeries to fuse a bone in his foot and to repair his shoulder and may need additional shoulder surgeries.
Prosecutors said Wilson charged a set of doors in the tunnel and prevented officers from closing them, and then tried to rain blows on the officers using a thin PVC pipe that he had apparently found on the ground. Gonell tried to block the pipe from hitting a fellow officer who had no helmet, he said.
"Both my hands were bleeding at that time from blocking," Gonnell said. "He insisted on continuing to fight me to prevent us from closing that door, that would enable him and his fellow insurrectionists to advance in the tunnel and the Capitol as members of Congress and the Senate were being evacuated from the very same route."
But Wilson characterized his actions differently in a written statement given to the court, contending he was swept along by the crowd and was pushed forward toward the doors.
Wilson also claimed he didn’t remember the most aggressive of his actions, but acknowledged that he had committed them based on videos from the scene.
"It was stupid for me to do something like that," he told the judge. "I made a very bad decision by going in that place that day."
Gonell criticized what he said was Wilson’s "fake remorse," and said he believes that Wilson would attack the Capitol again if he hears the same "rallying cry" that he did on Jan. 6.
"I remember vividly what happened that day to me, to him," Gonell said. "More than one year later I am still not able to put on my police uniform due to those injuries because of what he did to me and my fellow officers."
Wilson must serve 3 years of supervised probation after he is released from prison, the judge said.
He will also have to pay restitution that is still being determined for damage to the U.S. Capitol building and to Gonell.
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