Apr 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Judge issues first acquittal in a Jan. 6 case

Photo of Trump supporters storming the Capitol
Demonstrators attempt to breach the U.S. Capitol after they stormed the building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal defense contractor who admitted to entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection was found not guilty on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Matthew Martin, who held a top-secret security clearance, is now the first person acquitted after having been charged for participating in the Capitol riot. His case could now be used as an example for the defense of other Jan. 6 participants who go to trial, BuzzFeed News notes.

Details: U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden acquitted him after a two-day bench trial, which Martin chose instead of a trial by a D.C. jury, saying his actions were "minimal and not serious," per NBC News.

  • The judge found Martin "reasonably believed" police allowed him to enter the Capitol, per BuzzFeed.
  • Martin took leave from his job to travel to D.C. after reading then-President Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, according to the Justice Department.
  • After attending the Trump rally preceding the attack, he filmed footage of the mob breaking into the Capitol, including images of a smashed window on a door to the U.S. Capitol.
  • During his bench trial, he said he didn't clearly see what was happening around him during the insurrection, though the DOJ said he acknowledged seeing the smashed glass, according to NBC News.
  • "I saw no violence," Martin claimed, adding that he had "positive" personal experiences besides the charges. If he had the chance to do a repeat of Jan. 6, he said he'd stay away from the Capitol but maintained that he "enjoyed everything else."
  • "It's hard for me to say I regret coming to Washington, D.C."

Worth noting: McFadden, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, previously convicted a New Mexico elected official for illegally entering Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct.

The big picture: The FBI has arrested over 700 people in connection with the insurrection.

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