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‘QAnon Shaman,’ key figure in Jan. 6 attack, to be sentenced Wednesday

Win McNamee/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Jacob Chansley, the self-described "QAnon Shaman" who infamously marched through the U.S. Capitol with a spear and horned helmet during the Jan. 6 riot, will appear before a federal judge on Wednesday to be sentenced for his role in the attack.

Prosecutors last week recommended that Chansley, 33, receive a sentence of 51 months, which would be the longest prison term among the hundreds of people who have been criminally charged in connection with the insurrection.

"The defendant was among the first 30 rioters to penetrate the U.S. Capitol building," prosecutors wrote in their filing. "The defendant then stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation's lawmakers, and flouting the 'opportunity' to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors."

Chansley pleaded guilty on Sept. 3 to one felony count of unlawfully obstructing an official proceeding. He will be one of the first felony defendants from the Jan. 6 insurrection to learn his fate, joining dozens of lower-level misdemeanor defendants who have been sentenced thus far.

"The government cannot overstate the seriousness of the defendant's conduct as one of the most prominent figures of the historic riot on the Capitol on January 6, 2021," prosecutors said. "His consistent rhetoric before and after the event, and his apparent ability to carry out his intentions of violently removing the 'traitors' in our government, is clear from the evidence in this case. Only the valiant efforts of law enforcement kept those upon whom he set his sights out of his path."

Multiple videos and images showed Chansley carrying his spear into the Senate chamber, where prosecutors say he led a group of rioters in a prayer on the dais and left a menacing note behind for then-Vice President Mike Pence.

"It's Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!" the note read.

According to a brief presented to a judge in January, "Chansley is a high-profile leader and the self-professed shaman of QAnon." In September, Chansley’s attorney said his client had rejected the QAnon conspiracy theory.

If U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth accepts the government's sentencing recommendation, Chansley -- who isn't accused of assaulting law enforcement or destroying property -- would serve longer than Scott Fairlam, a former mixed martial arts fighter who last week was sentenced to 41 months in prison for assaulting a police officer during the riot.

The longest sentence handed out prior to Fairlam's was the an eight-month sentence handed down to Paul Hodgkins, who accompanied Chansley into the Senate chamber.

Chansley's attorney, Albert Watkins, argued that his client suffers from significant mental health vulnerabilities and last week asked for a sentence "significantly below" the 51 months being sought by prosecutors.

"This case is about a remarkable, gentle, kind, smart, spiritual, non-violent young man who has spent his life trying to overcome significant but secreted vulnerabilities, hardships, and societal neglect to self-educate scholastically, self-educate spiritually, self-navigate societally, and self-conclude that he is accountable for his actions, seeks to be held accountable, and wishes nothing short of the Court recognizing same," Watkins said.

"He seeks not to be seen as a political prisoner," Watkins said of his client. "He seeks not to blame a former president for his actions. He seeks not to justify his actions with any explanation. He seeks solely to be held accountable."

Chansley has been held in jail for almost 10 months.

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