SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A former Coronado resident was tentatively sentenced Tuesday to three months in prison for taking part in the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
A federal judge deferred the sentence until March 15, at which point Jeffrey Alexander Smith, 34, could receive custody, to be followed by two years of probation, with 200 hours of community service. The sentence was deferred until the court could resolve a legal issue of whether Smith can face both custody and probation.
Smith pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating and picketing in a capitol building for taking part in the siege. Prosecutors were seeking five months imprisonment, while Smith’s attorneys requested probation and community service.
According to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum, Smith and others moved iron benches that were placed in front of closed doors in the Capitol building. On the other side of the doors were a “mob of rioters” whom Smith was trying to let in, but three police officers intervened, the memorandum states.
Before the officers could move the benches back, prosecutors say, another crowd of people started pushing toward the doors, “sandwiching the three officers between the crowd and the doors.”
Smith joined the crowd and when the doors were eventually opened, he “gave a victorious fist pump,” then directed rioters toward the third level of the Capitol, which houses the galleries for the Senate and House chambers.
Prosecutors say the crowd that entered “included violent members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who were dressed in full battle gear like they were going to war.”
After the crowd surged inside, Smith joined others in antagonizing a group of police officers standing guard “outside an access point to the Office of the Speaker of the House,” according to the memorandum.
At one point, prosecutors say, “Smith told the officers to `stand down,’ and warned them, `We’re getting in there one way or another.”‘
A physical altercation soon ensued between the crowd and officers, which left at least one officer injured, though video evidence does not make clear whether Smith personally took part in that altercation.
Smith, a U.S. Army veteran described by defense attorneys as “an aspiring commercial pilot,” was living with his parents in Coronado at the time, but has since moved out of state, according to court documents.
He was arrested a few weeks after the siege, with court documents outlining that he was identified via text messages he sent and photos and videos uploaded to social media that depicted him among the throng of rioters who stormed the Capitol.
In text messages to others, officials say Smith wrote, “I’m a Patriot,” “I stormed the capital,” and stated that he was taking part in the insurrection to send a message that Americans were not “going to take a fraudulent election” and “There is no way in hell I was going to drive 38 hours from San Diego and not walk right through the front of the (Capitol) building.”
Defense attorneys have said Smith “deeply regrets his actions” and was only in Washington D.C. to hear former President Donald Trump speak, then made an “ill-advised decision to enter the Capitol Building” when “he saw hundreds, if not thousands, of others already inside and the doors to the Capitol Building open.”
Prosecutors allege Smith’s texts following Jan. 6 display a lack of remorse and that other subsequent actions “demonstrate a possibility of future violence.”
Prosecutors cited an incident in which Smith was removed from an airplane in Wisconsin for allegedly refusing to wear a face mask on the plane and became “so belligerent that the airline had to call in police,” though he was not ultimately arrested.
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