By Michael Kunzelman and Lindsay Whitehurst | Related Press
WASHINGTON — A highschool pupil who stormed the U.S. Capitol, assaulted a police officer and sat in a Senate ground chair reserved for the vp was sentenced on Wednesday to at least one yr in jail.
Georgia resident Bruno Joseph Cua was 18 when he attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, making him one of many youngest folks charged within the riot.
Earlier than studying his sentence, Cua apologized for his actions and advised U.S. District Choose Randolph Moss that he’s ashamed of his function in a mob’s “assault on democracy.”
“The whole lot that day was only one horrible determination after one other,” mentioned Cua, now 21.
Moss sentenced Cua to a jail time period of 1 yr and sooner or later adopted by three years of supervised launch. The choose convicted Cua of felony costs after a trial earlier this yr.
Moss advised Cua that he was ready to provide him an extended jail sentence earlier than he heard his assertion in courtroom on Wednesday. The choose mentioned he believes Cua is really remorseful.
“It’s a tragic case for the nation. It’s a tragic case for you and your loved ones,” the choose advised him. “There aren’t any winners in any of this.”
Greater than 1,000 folks have been charged with Jan. 6-related crimes. Cua is certainly one of at the least six Capitol riot defendants born in 2002, in line with a spokesperson for the U.S. Legal professional’s workplace for the District of Columbia.
Cua’s attorneys cited his youth as grounds for leniency. His actions on Jan. 6 “replicate his immaturity on the time and the consequences that the gang had on such an adolescent,” protection attorneys wrote in a courtroom submitting.
Across the time of the riot, Cua was ending on-line coursework to graduate from highschool. Prosecutors mentioned Cua’s age is “solely barely” a mitigating consider his favor.
“People who attain the age of 18 are entrusted with a number of necessary tasks and duties together with voting, becoming a member of the army, signing a contract, and serving on a jury. On this method, the legislation acknowledges that an 18-year-old is able to making mature choices,” they wrote in a courtroom submitting.
Justice Division prosecutor Kaitlin Klamann mentioned at the least 5 Capitol riot defendants have been youthful than Cua on Jan. 6. Two of the 5 have resolved their instances and prevented jail phrases. Each pleaded responsible to misdemeanor offenses and have been sentenced to probation.
Cua deliberate his assault weeks prematurely, introduced weapons to the Capitol, tried to terrorize congressional staffers and was repeatedly aggressive towards police, prosecutors mentioned.
They added, “Cua performed a singular and distinguished function on January 6, opening the Senate Chamber to the rioters, escalating confrontations, and main different rioters into and thru the Capitol.”
Prosecutors really helpful a jail sentence of 4 years and 9 months for Cua. His legal professionals requested the choose to condemn him to time served: the 40 days he spent in jail after his February 2021 arrest.
Cua mentioned he was “scarred to my core” by his jail time. One other inmate assaulted Cua whereas he was jailed in Oklahoma, in line with certainly one of his legal professionals.
“I did one thing silly to land myself there, however it was traumatizing,” Cua mentioned.
Different younger rioters have obtained jail phrases. In March, for instance, U.S. District Choose Reggie Walton sentenced Aiden Bilyard to 3 years and 4 months of incarceration. Bilyard, of Cary, North Carolina, additionally was 18 when he stormed the Capitol, pepper sprayed a line of cops and used a bat to interrupt right into a Capitol convention room.
Cua and his dad and mom drove from their residence in Milton, Georgia, to Washington D.C., arriving a day earlier than then-President Donald Trump spoke at his “Cease the Steal” rally. The Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Cua was armed with pepper spray and a steel baton — weapons given to him by his father — when rioters breached police traces on the west aspect of the Capitol, in line with prosecutors. After climbing scaffolding, Cua entered the constructing by means of the Higher West Terrace doorways and and walked down a hallway towards the Senate.
“As Cua walked down the hallway, he tried to open each single workplace door he handed by pulling on doorknobs, pounding on the doorways along with his fist, and kicking the doorways,” prosecutors wrote.
They mentioned Cua supposed to intimidate staffers who have been behind the doorways as he yelled, “Hey! The place are the swamp rats hiding?”
Cua went to the third ground, the place he shoved a Capitol police officer who was making an attempt to lock doorways to the Senate gallery. After the officer retreated, Cua entered the gallery, shouting “That is our home! That is our nation!” Leaping onto the Senate ground, he sat within the chair for then-Vice President Mike Pence, leaned again and propped his ft up on a desk.
Then he opened a door, permitting dozens of different rioters onto the Senate ground. Earlier than leaving, Cua rifled by means of desks belonging to Senators Charles Grassley, John Thune and Dianne Feinstein.
Moss determined the case in opposition to Cua with out a jury in February, convicting him of obstructing the Jan. 6 congressional continuing and assaulting a federal officer. The choose handed down the decision after a “stipulated bench trial,” a continuing wherein Cua didn’t contest the info supporting his convictions. He waived his proper to a jury trial.
Prosecutors requested Moss to impose a $23,485 superb, which equals the sum of money raised by a web based fundraising marketing campaign referred to as “Bruno Cua: An American’s Future at Stake.” The web site mentioned the funds will probably be used for Cua’s “many bills in his pursuit of his freedom.”