By Avery Lotz, CNN
A former Virginia police officer who was fired after breaching the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021, was sentenced by a federal judge Thursday to more than seven years in prison.
Thomas Robertson entered the Capitol with the first breach of rioters that day, prosecutors said, and marks the second rioter convicted by a jury to be sentenced. Guy Reffitt, the first riot defendant convicted by a jury, received the same sentence of 87 months behind bars — the highest sentence in a January 6 case to date.
Washington, DC District Court Judge Christopher Cooper said Robertson’s actions after the riot were the most “striking and concerning” part of the case before handing down his sentence.
“You think partisan politics is war. You continue to believe conspiracy theories,” Cooper said to Robertson, adding: “I sincerely believe you would respond to a call of duty if called to do something like this again.”
Robertson, a former sergeant of the Rocky Mount police in Virginia, wrote in a March 2021 text to a friend, “I can kill every agent that they send,” assuring they would never see him “surrender to be a political prisoner.”
Robertson is one of more than a dozen January 6 defendants so far to opt to take their case to trial instead of entering a plea agreement.
Robertson’s substantial sentence — along with the sentence given to Reffitt — could encourage January 6 defendants with sights on a trial to instead accept Justice Department plea deals. Only one accused rioter who went to trial was acquitted on all charges.
Cooper noted that Robertson, who was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, chose to go to trial and did not accept responsibility for his actions.
“That’s your choice,” Cooper said. “But this is the consequence of that choice.”
Robertson was convicted by a DC jury in April on all six charges he faced, including the felony charges of impeding law enforcement officers, obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with evidence.
During his trial, prosecutors detailed what they considered Robertson’s preparation for the attack. They presented a post he allegedly wrote a month before January 6, 2021, calling for an “open and armed rebellion” and told the jury he brought three gas masks and food rations to DC.
Robertson’s co-defendant and former subordinate at work, Jacob Fracker, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in March and testified for hours against Robertson, a man he said he used to affectionately call “dad.” The jury also heard testimony from DC Metropolitan Police Officer Noah Duckett, who said a man prosecutors identified as Robertson struck him and another officer with a stick.
Robertson destroyed his and his Fracker’s phones before he was arrested and bought 37 guns in violation of his release conditions while awaiting trial, which Cooper considered — along with Robertson continuing “to advocate for violence” — when deciding his sentence.
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