Friday, August 19, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Contrition helps nonviolent Jan. 6 defendants avoid jail time

Andrew Ryan Bennett and Danielle Doyle join the ranks of Capitol rioters who have avoided jail time after copping to misdemeanor pleas. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — Two more Capitol rioters avoided jail time on Friday, adding to the growing number of defendants who have received light sentences for joining the Jan. 6 insurrection without adding to the violence. 

Andrew Ryan Bennett, of Maryland, received three months of home confinement, two years of probation and 80 hours of community service, while Danielle Doyle, of Oklahoma, received two months of probation and a $3,000 fine. Both had accepted plea deals for the low-level misdemeanors of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

“I’d like to apologize to you and the country for entering the Capitol,” Bennett said during his sentencing hearing on Friday. “I was not thinking clearly, pumped up on adrenaline as I was. What I did was wrong and I hold myself accountable for my actions.”

Bennett livestreamed his participation a the Capitol riot to his Facebook page. Though not a member of the far-right extremist organization, he was wearing a hat with the Proud Boys logo at the time. He didn’t commit any violence on Jan. 6, and he even admonished other rioters to stop being destructive several times — an important fact that prosecutors say distinguished Bennett from two Ohio friends whom U.S. District Judge James E.Boasberg sentenced to 45 days in prison on Wednesday. 

Boasberg on Friday asked prosecutors several times why their recommendation for Bennett — home confinement and probation — was so different from their recommendation of four months' imprisonment for Derek Jancar and Erik Rau. 

“It’s a pretty significant difference,” Boasberg said. “I’m interested in why this defendant should receive a significantly lighter sentence than what I gave earlier this week.”

Prosecutors responded that Bennett’s early plea deal, full cooperation with the FBI and attempts to stop other rioters from being destructive was crucial to his lighter sentence. 

“I very rarely impose a sentence greater than what was asked for by the government,” Boasberg said, noting that he was concerned with the fact that Bennett had posted “Chaos is coming” on Facebook on Jan. 4, and yelled at an officer while in the building. 

“What you and others did on Jan. 6 was nothing less than attempt to undermine our system of government,” Boasberg told Bennett. “I want you to know how serious I and others view these actions.”

In a separate courtroom Friday, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden opted to give Doyle a lighter sentence than the government’s recommended two months of home confinement and three years of probation. 

Doyle, a senior season ticket account manager for the Oklahoma City Thunder, entered the Capitol through a broken window and stayed inside for about 25 minutes. 

“I wish I had some profound thing to tell you,” Doyle told McFadyen during her sentencing hearing. “Why I went into that building I can’t tell you.”

McFadden’s imposition of a $3,000 fine is the first time a judge has given a Jan. 6 defendant any fine, other than the standard $500 restitution every misdemeanor Capitol riot defendant is required to pay. 

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...