Politics

Jan. 6 Rioter Gets 5 Years’ Probation as Judge Cites Autism Diagnosis

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A 29-year-old Maryland man who federal prosecutors said was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation by a federal judge who cited the man’s autism as an extenuating circumstance.

During his statement to the court, the man, Nicholas Rodean, struggled to explain his conduct on Jan. 6. Judge Trevor McFadden of U.S. District Court in Washington asked if he would ever do “something like this” again, according to Politico. “No,” Mr. Rodean replied.

Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 57 months in prison. During the attack, they said, Mr. Rodean used a flagpole and a small round object to break two panes of glass in a window, which became the entry point for many rioters.

Mr. Rodean also had a hatchet, which he put away after being asked to by a police officer. Federal prosecutors said that he was the 15th rioter to enter the Capitol and was one of the last rioters to leave.

In handing down a sentence that was lower than the minimum under sentencing guidelines, Judge McFadden attributed Mr. Rodean’s actions to autism spectrum disorder, according to Politico. Mr. Rodean, from Frederick, Md., was ordered to pay $2,048 and spend 240 days of his five years of probation in home detention.

Mr. Rodean had pleaded not guilty on all counts. In July, Judge McFadden found him guilty of the felony offense of destruction of government property and six misdemeanor offenses, including engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.

Mr. Rodean’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, declined to comment on Wednesday, but in a sentencing memorandum, he wrote, “We submit that Nicholas’ ‘history and personal characteristics’ make this a unique case among the hundreds of prosecutions to come out of that day.”

Mr. Rodean was one of hundreds of people who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. Much of the planning occurred on social media sites used by the far right.

Isolation during the pandemic caused Mr. Rodean to fixate on online political content, Mr. Burnham said, according to Politico.

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