A California college student seen Jan. 6 smashing a window of the US Capitol has been sentenced to four months in prison for vandalizing government property.
Hunter Allen Ehmke21, pleaded guilty in January to criminally destroying government property after being caught breaking a window to the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, as dozens of donald trump Supporters stormed the building and crowded inside.
As an increasingly violent crowd confronted police officers trying to protect the Rotunda, Ehmke climbed onto an unguarded windowsill and began kicking and banging at the glass. The police spotted him and quickly took him down, held him briefly and took his ID.
Prosecutors say Ehmke’s actions left the Capitol more vulnerable than it already was, forcing police officers to leave the line to hold back the crowd to arrest him. According to the government’s sentencing note, the nearby crowd became “increasingly aggressive” towards the officers who arrested Ehmke, with one man allegedly shouting that they would not let officers go with Ehmke, who was in handcuffs at the time .
As a result, officials ordered Ehmke to leave the Capitol grounds immediately – which he did – and that a warrant would be issued for his arrest.
Ehmke was not among the rioters who entered the building.
The property destruction charge carried a possible 10-year sentence, three years probation and a fine of up to $250,000. Prosecutors had asked for a suspended prison sentence of four months and three years, while Ehmke had only requested a suspended sentence.
“He was a leader.”
At Friday’s hearing before the US District Judge Tanya ChutkanEhmke’s mother, Lisa EmkeShe made an emotional plea on behalf of her son, saying his actions that day were due to a previously undiagnosed medical condition.
“[After] all those nights of struggling with why and how he was in the Capitol, we finally figured it out [it] out and get him into treatment and therapy with the right diagnosis,” Lisa said. “It’s nothing but answered prayers.”
Lisa Ehmke said she was afraid of what a “setback” — in the form of jail time — would do to him and his efforts to turn his life around, including taking a whole bunch of community college courses, working for the company his family, and volunteering at a local pantry.
She also said her son didn’t seem to understand what happened that day, or his role in the riot, temporarily preventing Congress from confirming it Joe Bidens 2020 election victory and forced lawmakers to either evacuate the building or find housing. She said people in the crowd were shouting at Ehmke to “get involved” and “do something” to help efforts to break into the Capitol.
“Hunter let me know that he didn’t know what was going on in the Capitol that day,” she said. “He hasn’t heard anything about the counting of the votes or the confirmation of the election. He watched and watched the crowd as always.”
She said that when she watches the video of Ehmke smashing the Capitol windows, she sees “a terrified … person up there looking around and not really understanding what’s going on.”
Chutkan, a Barack Obama Appointment, had a different attitude.
“I saw the video,” Chutkan said, adding, “I disagree with the defense’s characterization of Mr. Ehmke as a follower. He was not. He was a leader… in his own little way.”
Chutkan, who noted that she has two grown children of her own, said that she empathizes with Ehmke’s mother but that she cannot explain away her son’s actions.
“Mrs. Ehmke’s comments today are out of love and an effort to help me better understand her son,” Chutkan said. “But I see this as yet another attempt to shield and protect Mr. Ehmke from the consequences of his actions. I will not do that.”
Chutkan had noted that Ehmke’s family “has been consistently closed since childhood [him] about the consequences and consequences of his actions: When things didn’t work out at school, they put him in an alternative school. At high school [wasn’t working out], they let him travel the world and do homeschooling. He gets in trouble in the Capitol, he calls his parents and they tell him to come home.”
Despite a loving and supportive family, Chutkan said, Ehmke still “chosen to engage in violent criminal activity.”
“I have heard no words of regret.”
As much as Chutkan listened to what Lisa Ehmke said, she also focused on what hadn’t been said.
“One thing struck me about this case,” Chutkan remarked. “I have heard no words of regret.”
“I have not seen or heard a single letter about the men or women who fought that day,” the judge said. “Officials feared they would never come home to see their children and other injured people. Employees of our government who are sitting in this building trying to do their jobs that the taxpayers are paying them to do and afraid they will die or be killed, [or] not seeing her family and listening to the sounds of breaking glass [and] wondered if they would make it out alive. I haven’t heard a word about what it must have been like for the others… not a word.”
In the end, Chutkan imposed a sentence that was in line with the government’s recommendation: four months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Under the plea agreement, Ehmke must also pay $2,821 in damages for the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol.
“I know this may not be the outcome you were hoping for,” Chutkan told Ehmke at the end of the hearing. “I know you may be scared and devastated by what awaits you, but let me assure you that you will get out of this. You will have the rest of your life to continue on the path you have walked. You are young, you have a loving family, you have resources at your disposal.”
“You’re not the worst thing you’ve ever done,” Chutkan added.
Chutkan said she would allow Ehmke to surrender himself after he finished his college courses, which would end on June 15.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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https://lawandcrime.com/u-s-capitol-breach/i-havent-heard-any-words-of-remorse-judge-sentences-man-to-months-behind-bars-for-kicking-and-smashing-capitol-windows/ Hunter Ehmke, Jan. 6 Capitol Window Smasher, gets jail sentence