WASHINGTON, DC – Doug Jensen, the Iowa construction worker who was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, has been found guilty on all seven counts related to the assault in a trial that ended on Friday.
After deliberating for about four hours, the jury of 10 men and 2 women unanimously found Jensen guilty of crimes ranging from civil disorder to obstruction. Sentencing of the five felonies and two misdemeanors is scheduled for December 16.
The Des Moines resident’s case was among the most high-profile for individuals who stormed the Capitol last year in hopes of preventing certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
At times during the trial, Jensen kept a close eye on exhibits presented. In others, he looked down at his knees, dressed in dark jeans and a salmon-colored plaid shirt – an outfit that contrasts sharply with the QAnon t-shirt he wore when he was in the Capitol building.
When the guilty verdicts were announced, Jensen’s wife April wept silently as she sat in the second row of the courtroom behind him. Jensen blew a kiss to his wife when he entered to receive the verdict and she blew a kiss when he was about to leave. In pre-trial custody, Jensen remained in custody after the verdicts.
“We had a very conscientious jury and respect their verdict,” Jensen’s attorney, Christopher Davis, told reporters afterwards. “It’s a sad case. Doug Jensen is a good man who was struggling when all of this happened. He has a loving wife and family. I hope they can get over this.”
The most serious charge against Jensen was obstruction of official process, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, against maximum sentences of five years for civil disorder or one year for trespassing on land restrains or prevents a police officer. But defendants generally do not receive maximum sentences under federal guidelines.
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“Doug Jensen would not be arrested on January 6 until he got what he came for: to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” prosecutors said in their closing statement.
William Miller, a spokesman for the DC Attorney General’s Office, said the prosecution would not comment on the case beyond what was stated or submitted in court, but told USA TODAY that a statement release was forthcoming.
All post-trial defense motions must be filed by October 14. The prosecution’s response is expected on October 28.
Jensen’s previous record involved mostly minor offences: a shoplifting charge dismissed in 1997 when he was 18, driving with a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender in 2001 and trespassing. in 2006.
The most serious charge came in 2015 in Rochester, Minnesota, where Jensen was arrested and charged with two counts each of assault, domestic assault and disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence and one count of disorderly conduct.
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So far, the longer sentences for the Jan. 6 crimes have tended to go to defendants who attacked police officers. The longest was 10 years awarded to retired New York police officer and Navy veteran, Thomas Webster, who attacked and choked an officer.
Prosecutors have recommended seven years and two months for Iowan Kyle Young, who pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer. He is expected to be sentenced on September 27.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 850 people in 48 states with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol, and arrests are continuing. Jensen’s case was only the ninth to go to trial.
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It was never discussed whether Jensen was on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.
“It’s not a ‘thriller’ thing,” Davis said in his closing remarks, a comment he also made in his opening remarks.
“We know whodunit,” Davis added, describing Jensen as the “Where’s Waldo” of the Capitol attack.
The prosecution’s case relied heavily on numerous videos and photographs of Jensen parading around the Capitol, as well as testimony from several law enforcement personnel who clashed with him in the building.
“Jensen was the rioter who wouldn’t back down,” prosecutors argued. “If it hadn’t all been recorded from at least 10 different angles, it would be pretty hard to believe.”
Central to the prosecution’s argument was Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman — whose viral video from a reporter showed him being chased by Jensen down a staircase in the Capitol — and other officers who testified in the trial described Jensen as “aggressive , “arrogant” and at one point, the “leader of the mob.”
Jensen’s pursuit of Goodman “wasn’t a leader tracking game; it was Officer Goodman in survival mode,” prosecutors said.
The defense argued that despite Jensen’s confrontational attitude, he was not wielding weapons like many other protesters and was not acting in concert with the other rioters in the building, urging the jury to try Jensen on his only acts.
“January 6 is not sitting at this table; Doug Jensen is,” Davis said in his closing remarks.
Goodman, who was hailed a hero for leading protesters away from the Senate Chamber, where lawmakers were being evacuated, said ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jake Angeli held a flag that appeared to be sharp as a spear and others demonstrators had bats and flags which they used to goad the officers. Jensen didn’t, he conceded.
The defense also made a distinction between Capitol rioters “dressed in costume” and those “dressed for battle,” saying Jensen was among the former.
Jensen’s attire that day – a beanie and the black shirt with a giant “Q” on it, in homage to the conspiratorial QAnon movement – makes him easily identifiable in footage of the riot.
He told FBI agents during an interview at Des Moines police headquarters a few days after the riot that he wore the shirt so that Q, the alleged anonymous government official who is the alleged voice of the conspiracy theory, gets credit for the events of January 1st. 6, 2021.
In its closing arguments, the defense asked the jury members to remember how they felt during the pandemic, when cities were ghost towns and isolation was the norm.
Davis, Jensen’s attorney, claimed the pandemic “has done weird things to everybody” — perhaps, Jensen more than others, he argued. He repeatedly described Jensen as “a confused man”.
“He believed (QAnon),” Davis said. “He honestly believed it… There is no other explanation for what he did that day.”
Contributor: Bart Jansen