On Friday, NBC4 Washington's Scott MacFarlane, a top reporter covering the trials of the Capitol rioters, noted they are employing a new legal strategy to try to keep themselves out of prison — but that there are signs it will fail.
"The weekend begins with a big, bright, waving red flag for some of the January 6th defendants who hope by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, they can avoid time in jail," said MacFarlane. "For at least the second time in a week, one of those defendants pleaded guilty to the lowest level of misdemeanor charges, and got three months behind bars, either in the local D.C. jail or in federal prison."
The rioter in question is Robert Reeder of Maryland, who was initially charged with misdemeanor picketing, but whose trial was upended by new footage showing him attacking Capitol Police.
"It's not necessarily that a dam is breaking because of what happened with Robert Reeder, it's what the judges have been saying this week that is a potentially ominous sign for other defendants," said MacFarlane. "When giving Reeder his sentence, the federal judge said, 'It's become evident to me in the riot cases many of the defendants who are pleading guilty are not truly accepting responsibility' ... Reeder's not alone, a few days ago, you'll recall I reported Matt Mazzocco, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, was also sentenced to time behind bars. 45 days. What did the judge say in his case? The judge said she's doing so because, quote, 'The country is watching to see what the consequences are for something that has never happened before.'"
All of this, argued MacFarlane, is evidence that upcoming Capitol rioters won't get leniency just for trying to plead down their cases.