- On Friday, a judge sentenced oath keeper Jessica Watkins to 8½ years in prison.
- He said Watkins could have used her identity as a trans woman to be a role model.
- Instead, she formed a local militia and encouraged others to commit crimes on January 6.
The judge who sentenced oath-keeper Jessica Watkins for her role in the Capitol insurrection says she could have used her identity as a transgender woman and military veteran to be a role model rather than a leader ‘riot.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Watkins to eight and a half years in prison. Watkins is a U.S. Army veteran and member of the Oath Keepers who founded a local militia in Ohio, which she mobilized to join her in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, CNN reported.
Much of Watkins’ emotional testimony focused on her struggles as a trans woman in the military, a journey which she says left her ‘frightened and paranoid’ and led her deep into the world conspiracy theories, according to CNN.
Mehta acknowledged his struggles during Friday’s sentencing, telling the court that “Watkins’ story itself shows a lot of courage and resilience,” according to CNN.
“You’ve overcome a lot,” Mehta said, according to CNN. “And you have to be seen as someone who can really be a role model for other people on this journey. And I say this at a time when trans people in our country are so often vilified and used for political gain. “
But, he said, Watkins’ suffering “makes it that much harder for me to understand the lack of empathy for those who suffered that day,” CNN reported.
Watkins initially showed little remorse for her actions on Capitol Hill, where she blocked officers and encouraged other rioters to follow her lead, CBS News reported. She has since apologized and says she is now “ashamed” of her actions, according to CBS News.
Despite his empathy for Watkins, Mehta said, “Your role that day was more aggressive, more aggressive, more determined than maybe others,” CNN reported.
“Your role in these events is more than that of a mere infantryman,” he added. “I think you can appreciate that.”
Watkins was first convicted last year on a number of felony charges, including obstructing Congress and interfering with police, CBS News reported.