GOP state lawmaker writes letter of support for Capitol rioter ahead of sentencing

·2 min read

An Oklahoma Republican lawmaker wrote a letter asking for a judge to show mercy to a Capitol riot suspect.

The Oklahoman reports that state Representative Kevin Wallace penned a letter of support for Capitol riot suspect Tanner Bryce Sells, 26, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in Washington DC.

Mr Sells is one of seven Oklahomans arrested in connection with the Capitol riot. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor during a September hearing for his part in the events of 6 January.

Mr Wallace asked US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson for her "compassion in this process”.

He wrote that he was familiar with Mr Sells and his family, claiming the man runs his own construction company and has a two-year-old child.

"I've known his mother, Kristin Sells, and family for more than twenty years," he wrote. "He is and has been a contributing citizen in our small community."

Prosecutors want the judge to sentence Mr Sells to 14 days in prison, with 36 months of probation and 60 hours of community service. Mr Sells has also agreed to pay $500 in restitution.

The prosecutors said that Mr Sells should be held accountable for his actions during the Capitol riot.

"As this Court knows, a riot cannot occur without rioters, and each rioter’s actions — from the most mundane to the most violent — contributed, directly and indirectly, to the violence and destruction of that day," they told the judge.

Mr Sells' attorney is asking for the judge to give him 12 months of probation.

According to court documents, Mr Sells traveled to the Capitol with members of his church to attend Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally that degenerated into the Capitol riot. He is believed to have only spent about five minutes inside the Capitol.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Kyle Wackenheim told the judge that ultimately it was Mr Trump's rally that spurred on the violence at the Capitol on 6 January, 2021.

"It is probably unproductive to discuss the inflammatory nature of the rally and the comments of the speakers that led to the assault. Certainly, others have dissected the speeches and raised concerns that the rally incited the violence at the Capitol," he said.

He noted that the rally did not excuse the rioter's actions, but provided a context to understand their decisions during the Capitol riot.

"While it may not excuse the actions of individuals such as Mr. Sells, it helps explain how thousands of otherwise law-abiding American citizens marched nearly two miles to the United States Capitol Building demanding immediate action," he said.

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