Jan 6 rioter gets probation not jail after judge finds autism played a part
« I’m giving you a real break here, » McFadden said, noting that similar cases of destruction of property related to the Capitol breach have earned longer prison sentences.
It was an unexpected turn for a defendant whose health issues were widely discussed under seal during his nearly two-year criminal case. Rodean was indicted on January 11, 2021 for his role in the Capitol breach. McFadden convicted him in a bench trial in July of smashing two Capitol windows with a flagpole, as well as other crimes associated with breaking into the building and disrupting court proceedings. Congress.
Rodean stood alongside Jan. 6 defendant Jacob Chansley — who wore a horned helmet and face paint — in a confrontation with Capitol police that came amid a frantic effort to evacuate then-Vice President Mike Pence and senators from the Capitol.
Rodean’s attorney Charles Burnham – who is also representing Donald Trump associates Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman in the ongoing January 6 cases – said Rodean had become obsessed with politics during the pandemic, as he was isolated and without its typical support structure. He said Rodean was particularly susceptible to the influence of « assertive male figures » like Trump. And once inside the Capitol, he added, Rodean was also drawn to Chansley, who captured the attention of the crowd that day.
Rodean’s parents sat in the courtroom during the sentencing proceedings, and his sister Kimberly addressed McFadden, during which she expressed her fear that prison could devastate mental health of his brother and sideline his newly successful dog-walking business.
« People with autism don’t do well in prison, » she said.
But it was Rodean’s own statement to the judge that seemed most touching. For nearly 15 minutes, Rodean struggled to articulate his conduct on January 6, describing how he consumed an intense amount of media on the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests which, at times, led to riots. On January 6, he took an Uber to the Stop the Steal rally at which Trump appeared, then walked with the crowd. Someone then handed him an object which he used to smash the two windows that had already been hit by other rioters.
« I’m so sorry for breaking the window, » he said. « I am truly sorry for the other crimes I have committed. »
« Are you going to do something like that again? » McFadden asked him.
« No, » Rodean replied.
A day earlier, McFadden sentenced January 6 defendant Hunter Seefried to 24 months in prison for similarly joining the first breach of the building and engaging in the same standoff with police outside the Senate Chamber.
Prosecutors originally recommended a 57-month sentence for Rodean.
« There is no indication that he has any regrets regarding his involvement in the riot that day, » the Justice Department wrote in a sentencing recommendation filed last week.
But in his own sentencing noteBurnham urged McFadden to consider Rodean’s mental health and a doctor’s assessment that concluded jail would be particularly dangerous for his client.
Burnham said Rodean is susceptible to exploitation, easily triggered by loud noises and other stimuli and would likely be remanded in custody by correctional officers who may not have the necessary training for someone with the condition. Asperger’s syndrome, forcing him into long periods of isolation.
« We contend that Nicholas’ ‘history and personal characteristics’ make him unique among the hundreds of prosecutions that took place that day, » Burnham wrote.