January 6 rioter gets probation, no prison after judge finds autism played a role

“I’m giving you a real break here,” McFadden said, pointing out that similar property destruction cases linked to the Capitol infringement would have deserved longer prison terms.

It was an unexpected twist for a defendant whose health issues were largely discussed under sealed during his nearly two-year criminal trial. Rodean was indicted on January 11, 2021 for his role in the Capitol breach. McFadden found him guilty at a July trial for smashing two Capitol windows with a flagpole, as well as other crimes related to breaking into the building and disrupting congressional proceedings.

Rodean famously stood alongside Defendant Jacob Chansley of Jan. 6 — who wore a horned helmet and face paint — in a standoff with the Capitol police that took place amid a frantic attempt to expel then Vice President Mike Pence and senators from the United States. to evacuate the Capitol.

Rodean’s attorney Charles Burnham — who also represents Donald Trump associates Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman on Jan. 6 ongoing cases — said Rodean had become fixated on politics during the pandemic, when he was isolated and without his typical support structure. He said Rodean was particularly susceptible to the influence of “assertive male figures” such as Trump. And once inside the Capitol, he added, Rodean was similarly drawn to Chansley, who caught the crowd’s attention that day.

Rodean’s parents sat in court during the sentencing trial, and his sister Kimberly turned to McFadden, expressing concern that prison would destroy her brother’s mental health and sideline his newly successful dog walking business.

“Autistic people don’t do well in prison,” she said.

But it was Rodean’s own statement to the judge that seemed most poignant. For nearly 15 minutes, Rodean struggled to verbalize his behavior on Jan. 6, describing how he consumed an intense amount of media about the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests that sometimes led to riots. On January 6, he took an Uber to the Stop the Steal rally where Trump appeared, then marched with the crowd. Someone then handed him an object that smashed the two windows that had already been smashed by other rioters.

“I’m really sorry I broke the window,” he said. “I’m really sorry about other crimes I’ve committed.”

“Are you ever going to do something like that again?” McFadden asked him.

“No,” Surround replied.

A day before, McFadden convicted January 6, defendant Hunter Seefried to 24 months in prison for similarly participating in the building’s early breakout and entering into the same standoff with police outside the Senate Chamber.

Prosecutors had initially recommended a 57-month jail term for Rodean.

“There is no indication that he regrets taking part in the riots that day,” the Justice Department wrote in a statement a sentencing recommendation submitted last week.

But in his own punishment memoBurnham urged McFadden to consider Rodean’s mental health and a doctor’s evaluation showing that prison would be extremely dangerous for his client.

Burnham said Rodean is prone to abuse, easily triggered by loud noises and other stimuli and likely to be taken into protective custody by corrections officers who may not have the training for someone with Asperger’s syndrome – forcing him into extended periods of isolation .

“We argue that Nicholas’ “history and personal characteristics” make this a unique case among the hundreds of persecutions that sprang up that day,” Burnham wrote.

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