Riley Williams, a Pennsylvania woman who is among the highest-profile defendants of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.
Williams, 24, is notorious for leading a group into the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and allegedly encouraging others to steal Pelosi's laptop. On Nov. 21, a Washington jury convicted Williams on six of the eight counts she faced, including two felonies: participating in a civil disorder and impeding police officers who were trying to clear the Capitol.
The jury could not reach a verdict on a charge that Williams aided in the theft of the laptop from Pelosi's office and that she obstructed Congress' certification of President Joe Biden's victory. The Justice Department declined to retry her on those charges.
"The defendant's conduct that day was utterly reprehensible," said U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2011. The Wall Street Journal reported Jackson said Williams encouraged other rioters, hurled insults at police officers, bragged on social media about her actions, and tried to cover her tracks when the FBI was looking for her.
Prosecutors had sought a seven-year sentence. Williams' attorney, public defender Lori Ulrich, proposed a sentence of one year and one day, according to the Journal. Ulrich tried to shift blame onto former President Donald Trump, saying her client had been "fooled and manipulated" by his rhetoric about the election being stolen.
"He didn't go into the building, but his fingerprints are all over this," Ulrich said of Trump.
Jackson said although she agreed Trump is ultimately responsible for what happened that day, his rhetoric doesn't excuse Williams' actions.
"Nobody made her do this," Jackson said, adding Williams' father and his two friends, who traveled with her to Washington on the day of the riot, never entered the building.
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