First Outright Acquittal Given to Jan. 6 Defendant

First Outright Acquittal Given to Jan. 6 Defendant

A judge has issued the first outright acquittal of a Jan. 6 riot defendant who argued police officers let him enter the U.S. Capitol Building.

Judge acquitted New Mexico engineer on all charges following a two-day bench trial.

McFadden said that based on video evidence, Martin’s claims were plausible.

Martin testified during the trial that a Capitol Police officer had waved him into an entrance near the rotunda. The prosecutor dismissed his claim as “nonsense.”

However, McFadden called Martin’s testimony “largely credible.” The judge added that his actions were “about as minimal and non-serious” as anyone at the Capitol that day.

BuzzFeed News reports:

McFadden, one of the court’s newer judges confirmed under former president Donald Trump, has emerged as one of the more skeptical members of the DC bench when it comes to the Justice Department’s charging decisions in Jan. 6 cases. In other cases, he’s questioned whether prosecutors were “even-handed” in their treatment of people charged in connection with the Capitol attack as compared to previous protests, a comment that prompted public disagreement from one of his colleagues, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Martin took the rare step of testifying in his own defense this week; his case was decided by the judge at a bench trial, not by a jury. He was unapologetic about joining the crowd that flooded the building as lawmakers gathered to certify the results of the election. He described Jan. 6 as “magical,” even as he acknowledged that some “bad things” had happened, and said that he didn’t regret coming to Washington, although he might have stayed away from the Capitol.

More than 200 people have pleaded guilty so far to misdemeanors offenses alone as part of agreements with the government. Hundreds more misdemeanor-only cases are pending, and the outcome of early trials — and whether judges accept or reject the government’s overarching theory of how to charge nonviolent participants — is likely to affect whether more defendants accept a deal or take their chances at trial.

Martin testified that he’d made plans to come to DC after seeing a tweet in December 2020 from Trump calling on supporters to come for a “wild” protest. He said he traveled alone — his brother turned down an invitation to go with him — and didn’t know anyone else who went. At the time, he was a longtime employee of a private contractor for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and worked as a senior engineer at a facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico; he was fired after being charged, he said.

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