A conspiracy theorist who became one of the most recognized rioters storming the US Capitol last January pleaded guilty Friday to obstructing congressional proceedings, a charge carrying a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Images of Jacob Anthony Chansley, who as a shirtless man carrying a spear and wearing a horned fur hat became known as the QAnon shaman, were beamed around the world when he and others invaded the Capitol building and took over the US Senate.
Chansley has been a subscriber to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory blamed for fueling Donald Trump’s supporters who tried to halt Congress’s certification of results of the 2020 election won by Joe Biden.
Speaking by video link to federal Judge Royce Lambert in US District Court in Washington, Chansley said “yes your honor” to pleading guilty to the most serious charge in a six-count indictment.
Chansley, who in court acknowledged his “mental vulnerabilities,” has undergone a psychiatric evaluation, with the judge saying he determined that Chansley was competent to stand trial.
Sentencing was scheduled for November 17. According to guidelines estimated by the prosecution, Chansley could face a sentence of between 41 and 51 months in prison.
His lawyer, Albert Watkins, sought leniency from the court.
“Mr Chansley has zero criminal histories, we do know that he was not a planner (of the unrest), he was not violent,” Watkins said.
The lawyer also asked the court that his client be released from detention pending sentencing, a request that Lambert said would be considered.
Chansley, also known as Jacob Angeli, is among several hundred rioters arrested following the insurrection.
He and others have pleaded guilty after video footage showed them fighting officers, storming the Capitol, or making threats about lawmakers and then-vice president Mike Pence, who was overseeing the Electoral College certification process.
Prosecutors have said Chansley left a note for Pence at the Senate dais where the second-in-command had been standing just minutes before, which read: “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
According to the count to which the defendant pleaded guilty, Chansley engaged in “disorderly and disruptive conduct” when he obstructed the congressional proceedings and threatened congressional officials.
While Chansley publicly embraced QAnon -– he was photographed holding a “Q Sent Me!” sign at previous rallies — his attorney said Chansley has repudiated those beliefs.