A New Jersey man who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, told a jury this week that he didn't know the Capitol building is where Congress meets, NBC News reports.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli has been charged with five counts, which include obstruction of an official proceeding. While he admits in engaging in criminal activity that day, he claims he didn't know that the U.S. Capitol was where the House and Senate reside.
"I know this sounds idiotic, but I'm from New Jersey," Hale-Cusanelli told jurors on Thursday. "I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is."
"I didn't know the Capitol building was the same as the congressional building," Hale-Cusanelli told a federal prosecutor.
Hale-Cusanelli became infamous after photos surfaced that showed him with a “Hitler mustache.” He allegedly had told co-workers that "Hitler should have finished the job."
Hale-Cusanelli has been held in jail since February partly due to his alleged extremist views. At least 34 of his acquaintances told prosecutors that he held "extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women."
A Navy petty officer claimed Hale-Cusanelli, who was an active member of the U.S. Army Reserves at the time of the riot, once said that "Hitler should have finished the job." Evidence from his phone examined by prosecutors showed he had Nazi sympathies and white supremacist views.
While on the stand, Hale-Cusanelli claimed his history of racist rhetoric was just him joking around with friends.
“I really like attention and I like talking a lot,” he testified, saying some of his remarks were "ironic humor," and "self-deprecating humor" that helped him "cope with how I was raised." He also claimed to be half-Puerto Rican and half Jewish.
The jury convicted Hale-Cusanelli of all five counts on Friday. Sentencing is set for September 16.