Sep 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 witness receives probation, no prison time

Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty to charges related to Jan. 6 riot, speaking before the Jan. 6 committee in July 2022.
Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty to charges related to Jan. 6 riot, speaking before the Jan. 6 committee in July 2022. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty in June to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, to two years of probation, according to the Department of Justice.

Why it matters: Ayres' punishment spares him from serving a prison sentence, AP reports. During his sentencing hearing on Thursday, he again apologized for his actions throughout the riot.

  • Ayres, 41, had apologized to U.S. Capitol Police officers earlier this year after testifying before the House select committee investigating the riot.

What they're saying: U.S. District Judge John Bates said he believed Ayres showed genuine remorse and regret for his role in the riot, indicated by his testimony to the House committee.

  • "It was a travesty in American history, a shocking attack on our democratic values and institutions,” Bates said, per AP. “All who participated in that insurrection, I think it can be called, must be held responsible."
  • "I pray every day for the officers that are struggling with this, the families that lost their loved ones,” Ayres said. “I just hope one day I can wake up and not have to live with it every day."
  • Bates also ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service.

The big picture: During his testimony in July, Ayres said he believed former President Trump's words before the riot incited his supporters who later marched on the Capitol, saying, "We basically were just following what he said."

  • Ayres said his associates and he were not planning to go to the Capitol until Trump’s speech at the Ellipse “got everyone riled up.”
  • He also said the riot "changed my life ... not for the good," adding that he lost his job over it.

Go deeper: Jan. 6 committee plans afternoon hearing on Sept. 28

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