A person who attacked cops with poles through the riot on the US Capitol was sentenced on Tuesday to greater than 5 years in jail, matching the longest time period of imprisonment to date amongst a whole lot of Capitol riot prosecutions.
Mark Ponder, a 56-year-old resident of Washington, DC, mentioned he “received caught up” within the chaos that erupted on January 6, 2021, and “didn’t imply for any of this to occur”.
“I wasn’t pondering that day,” Ponder instructed US District Decide Tanya Chutkan, asking her for mercy earlier than she sentenced him to 5 years and three months in jail.
That was three months longer than the jail sentence requested by prosecutors. And it’s the identical sentence that Chutkan gave Robert Palmer, a Florida man who additionally pleaded responsible to assaulting police on the Capitol.
Greater than 200 different Capitol riot defendants have been sentenced to date. None acquired an extended jail sentence than Ponder or Palmer.
Chutkan mentioned Ponder was “main the cost” towards cops attempting to carry off the mob that disrupted Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“This isn’t ‘caught up’, Mr Ponder,” she mentioned. “He was intent on attacking and injuring cops. This was not a protest.”
Chutkan has persistently taken a tough line in punishing Capitol rioters. She has handed down phrases of imprisonment to all 13 riot defendants who’ve come earlier than her, matching or exceeding the Division of Justice’s sentencing advice in each case, in keeping with an Related Press evaluation of court docket information.
Prosecutors had advisable a five-year jail sentence for Ponder, who has been jailed since his arrest in March 2021.
In April, Ponder pleaded responsible to an assault cost punishable by a most sentence of 20 years in jail. Federal sentencing pointers referred to as for a jail time period starting from almost 5 years to only underneath six years, however Chutkan was not certain by these suggestions.
Greater than 100 cops have been injured through the riot.
Defence lawyer Joseph Conte mentioned Ponder was “caught up within the insanity that was January 6”. Conte requested for a sentence beneath the rules vary.
Ponder swung a pole at a Capitol police officer on the Capitol’s West Plaza, breaking it towards the officer’s defend. After retreating into the gang, Ponder grabbed a sturdier pole colored in purple, white, and blue stripes. He used it to assault two different officers, hitting one in every of them within the left shoulder, earlier than police detained and handcuffed him.
Outnumbered officers launched Ponder as a result of they might not get a police automobile to move him. They instructed him to go away the Capitol, however Ponder stayed and joined a mob of rioters clashing with police at a tunnel.
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, one of many officers assaulted by Ponder, mentioned the power of Ponder’s blow shattered his defend.
“It was horrific,” Gonell mentioned throughout Ponder’s sentencing listening to. “That exact day will influence me for the remainder of my life.”
After his arrest, Ponder instructed FBI brokers that he sometimes helps police however considered the officers as “a part of the issue” that day.
“Sooner or later in time, the way in which this nation goes, you gonna have to select a facet,” he mentioned, in keeping with prosecutors.
Ponder attended the “Cease the Steal” rally on January 6 to listen to then-President Donald Trump’s speech and to “peacefully protest the outcomes of the election and the dearth of consideration to alleged voting irregularities,” Conte wrote in a court docket submitting.
“He did so with no intent to do something however add his voice to the vocal protests over the injustice he perceived had occurred within the election,” the lawyer added. “Sadly, he received caught up within the riotous ambiance of the gang and erroneously perceived the police as standing in the way in which of the gang’s need to protest the election outcomes.”
Ponder has a considerable felony document spanning three a long time, together with a 2008 conviction for financial institution theft, in keeping with prosecutors.
Greater than 840 individuals have been charged with federal crimes for his or her conduct on the Capitol on January 6. Greater than 350 riot defendants have pleaded responsible or been convicted by a jury or a choose after trials.
Greater than 220 of them have been sentenced, together with roughly 100 who acquired a time period of imprisonment. Ponder is the fifteenth to be sentenced to a jail time period exceeding one yr.
The jail sentences for Ponder and Palmer will not be the lengthiest for for much longer. Prosecutors are looking for a 15-year jail sentence for Man Reffitt, a Texas man who was convicted of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun. US District Decide Dabney Friedrich is scheduled to condemn Reffitt on Monday.