A mother-son duo convicted of storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 among a violent mob bent on reversing Donald Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid were sentenced on Friday to a combined 7.25 years in federal prison.
Registered nurse Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 59, will serve 2.5 years behind bars after being found guilty in April of conspiracy to commit obstruction and obstruction of an official proceeding, both felonies, and five related misdemeanors. Her son, a 32-year-old sometime bartender Eric Gavelek Munchel, will be incarcerated for four years and nine months on five felony charges—two of them weapons-related—and three misdemeanors.
Eisenhart, who lives in Georgia, had expressed worries that prison time would mean an effective end to her career in healthcare, according to a sentencing memo filed Aug. 31 by her defense attorney. And Munchel, a newlywed living in Tennessee, has expressed concern that a long sentence would make it harder for him to provide for the baby he and his wife are expecting, his defense team said in a separate filing. (Lawyers representing Munchel and Eisenhart didn’t respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on Friday.)
Munchel became known as “Zip-Tie Guy” after a photo of him cavorting about the Senate chamber in a tactical vest emblazoned with the “Punisher” logo, holding a fistful of flexible plastic handcuffs he stole from a utility closet in the Capitol, went viral. In the complaint charging the pair, prosecutors also included a snapshot of Eisenhart on Capitol grounds, wearing a tactical vest of her own, and a MAGA hat. Munchel carried a Taser on his hip while inside the Capitol, which prosecutors said clearly indicated his willingness to fight.
Munchel’s attorneys pleaded with the court for leniency, arguing in a sentencing memo that their client was at the Capitol to protest peacefully, and that outfitting himself from head-to-toe in military-style “tactical attire… [was] evidence of nothing, save a certain fashion taste.” Further, they claimed Munchel only brought a Taser because he was “convinced that ANTIFA would be present to incite violence”—a far-right fever dream that was fabricated by the MAGA crowd. Beyond that, the defense said Munchel “has demonstrated his commitment to putting this era of his life behind him by committing to a relationship and fathering a child.”
Far from being there for “peaceful” purposes, prosecutors said in their sentencing memo, Munchel’s getup “intentionally communicated to anyone looking at [him] that he was prepared for violence.” Further, as laid out in charging documents, he was heard pushing his way into the Capitol while shouting such slogans as, “We ain’t playing fucking nice no goddamn more,” and “We’re fucking ready to fuck shit up.”
As for his supportive family relationships, prosecutors said, this “should give the Court concern, not comfort.” He participated in the riot alongside his mom, a GiveSendGo fundraising appeal apparently written by his wife simply “minimizes and excuses his conduct,” and the two “appear more likely to reinforce the beliefs and behaviors that led Munchel to commit his crimes than to help rehabilitate him.” Taken together with Munchel’s past arrests for battery and low-level drug crimes, it all underscored the need for a hefty sentence, the government argued.
In certain instances, it was hard to put the figurative toothpaste back in the tube. After the Capitol riot but prior to her arrest, Eisenhart gave an interview to The Times of London, in which she said, “This country was founded on revolution... I’d rather die as a 57-year-old woman than live under oppression. I’d rather die and would rather fight.”
A felony conviction for Eisenhart—her first ever, according to her lawyers—is “almost certain to jeopardize her 30-year nursing certification and livelihood,” her sentencing memo said. But, prosecutors argued, “Despite a relatively clean record and steady employment in a valued profession, Eisenhart decided to throw it all away on January 6, 2021 in spectacular fashion, attacking her own government to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power,” it said. “Eisenhart’s behavior on January 6 weighs in favor of incarceration.”
The pair’s conduct on Jan. 6 “was the epitome of disrespect for the law,” according to prosecutors.
“With the 2024 presidential election approaching, a rematch on the horizon, and many loud voices in the media and online continuing to sow discord and distrust, the potential for a repeat of January 6 looms ominously,” they wrote in their sentencing memo. “The Court must sentence Munchel and Eisenhart in a manner sufficient to deter them specifically, and others generally, from going down that road again.”
The sentence handed down to Munchel by U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth was exactly in line with what prosecutors were seeking. Eisenhart’s sentence is significantly shorter than the three years and 10 months the prosecution asked for.