Citing what he saw and heard in a video recording, a federal judge sentenced West Virginia defendant Derrick Evans to a three-month jail sentence for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The defense for Evans had emphasized that he was accused of no violence. Prosecutors acknowledged that, but said his narration of a video showed that he was aware of the violence around him, clear that going into the Capitol was wrong and yet reveled in the chaos and amplified it.
“You see how you were egging people on and you were encouraging what happened here,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth told Evans, who livestreamed the surge into the Capitol for more than an hour.
Evans was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to a felony charge of civil disorder. The sentence also includes 36 months supervised released, restitution for damage to the Capitol and fines.
A defense attorney for Evans had asked for no jail time, instead proposing restitution and probation. Dozens of friends and family submitted letters in support of Evans, and the judge took note. “The support you have is very impressive,” Lamberth said.
But Lamberth said the events of that day — the crowd pushing past barriers, overwhelming police officers, interrupting Congress as it certified the 2020 presidential election, evacuating the vice president — must not be repeated. And the judge said his part is to hand down sentences that serve as deterrents.
Lamberth said he had, at one point, considered a longer sentence in line with a federal sentencing guideline of six months, but instead chose to go with prosecutors’ recommendation.
“These are cases where there has to be a penalty imposed for serious offenses. To me, this has to be considered a serious offense,” Lamberth said.
Evans, now 37, had just been sworn in as a new delegate from Wayne County when he boarded a “Stop the Steal” bus late on Jan. 5, 2021, bound from Burlington, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. He resigned from West Virginia’s Legislature under pressure on Jan. 9, 2021, before ever serving in a regular session.
He is also a landlord, real estate investor and married father of four. Evans’ submission for the judge’s consideration of his sentence includes dozens of pages of pleas from friends and family.
Evans told the judge today, “I take full responsibility for my action.” He described a difficult journey in the months since Jan. 6, including death threats to his family but also the joy of seeing the birth of his fourth child.
“I will forever bear the reminder that I committed a crucial mistake,” he told the judge. “I let down myself, my community and, most importantly, my family.”
A mob storming the U.S. Capitol that day disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.
Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.
Federal prosecutor Kathryn Fifield, speaking at the Evans sentencing, told the judge “the number of sentencings is reflective of the number who made up this mob.
“We’re here yet again because thousands of people, including Mr. Evans, descended upon the Capitol on January 6th and invaded it in a violent and destructive manner. No rioter was a tourist.
“While sentencing will focus on each rioter’s conduct individually, no rioter’s action can be completely extricated from the threat presented and the violence and destruction committed by the mob as a whole.”
Prosecutors played clips of the video that Evans livestreamed outside and inside the Capitol, saying he was aware of the situation, including the violence, demonstrated enthusiasm for what was occurring and took on a leadership role through his exhortations.
A little more than 2 minutes into the video, Evans exclaimed “They’re reporting that patriots breached the Capitol building. This is awesome!”
Zooming in on police in riot gear at the five-minute mark, Evans commented “There they are! They got their riot gear… I’m gonna get my helmet.”
At almost 7 minutes, Evans said “Yeah! This is about to go get wild. It is about to go down, man. Somewhere there’s Trump supporters and D.C. Police are clashing somewhere out there right now.”
Sixteen minutes into the video, Evans approached Capitol Police at a bike rack barrier and said “We’re taking this country back whether you like it or not! Today is a test run.”
About half an hour into streaming, Evans advanced to the lower steps and told the audience “We’re in baby. We’re going in that building in a minute. We’re in baby. Share this video!”
About an hour in, Evans announced that voting had paused because of protesters. “We did that! It’s time to go in. We’re going in.” And a few minutes later, he announced “Patriots are on the Senate floor! There’s patriots on the Senate floor right now! Yes!”
And an hour and 11 minutes after starting his livestream, Evans and other protesters pushed their way into the Capitol. The video showed a protester in front of him using a police riot shield. “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol! Let’s go!” he said.
Evans spent about 10 minutes inside, walking around the Rotunda and Statuary Hall, urging others to refrain from vandalism and fistbumping other protesters before exiting.
“He knew almost immediately he had done something wrong,” Fifield said. “He texted his friends right after he exited the Capitol and asked if he should delete this livestream so there’s no evidence of what he did. Unfortunately, the internet being the internet didn’t work out so well for Mr. Evans.”