An Ohio man testified at a congressional hearing on why he stormed the US Capitol to avoid a jail term when a US federal judge sentenced him on Thursday. with two years’ probation for his role in the mob attack.
Following televised testimony at a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing in July, Stephen Ayres approached and apologized to a group of police officers who struggled to push back the rioting crowd on May 6. 1 year 2021.
Ayres apologized again on Thursday – this time in court and “the American people” – before US District Judge John Bates sentenced him to probation and ordered him to perform 100 hours of rehab. community service.
Bates said he believes Ayres has shown genuine remorse and remorse for his behavior, including testifying to the House committee investigating the uprising.
“It is a betrayal in American history, a shocking attack on our democratic values and institutions,” the judge said. “All those involved in that uprising, I think can be called, are held accountable.”
Ayres said he lost friends, family and work after taking part in the January 6 attacks.
“I pray every day for the officers who are struggling with this, the families who have lost their loved ones,” Ayres said. “I just hope one day I can wake up and not have to live with it every day.”
Prosecutors recommended that Ayres be sentenced to 60 days in prison, one year of supervised release and 60 hours of community service. Ayres’ attorney, Eugene Ohm, requested a probationary sentence without any prison sentence.
Ayres, 41, pleaded guilty in June to one count of disorderly conduct or disturbance in a building or restricted property, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. He has not been charged with participating in any violence or property damage.
Ayres was charged with Matthew Perna, a friend from Pennsylvania who joined him in Washington, DC. They attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, where then-President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters. They then joined the mob attack on the Capitol, entering the building through the doors of the Senate Wing.
Perna passed away in February. He pleaded guilty to continued rioting charges in December and is expected to be sentenced in March. The notice to the court of Perna’s death did not specify a cause, but his attorneys Ayres said Perna “taken her own life largely because of the pressures of this case.”
“Mr Ayres thinks about Mr. Perna, who has told him he feels responsible that Mr. Ayres has been accused, every day. Mr. Ayres wonders if Mr. Ayres’ circumstances contributed to Mr. Perna’s depression. or not,” wrote Ohm.
Two attorneys representing Perna did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Ayres was working as a supervisor for a cabinet maker when he was arrested at his home in Warren, Ohio, less than three weeks after the Capitol attack. His employer fired him.
In a Facebook post before the riot, Ayres wrote, “Major media, social media, Democrats, FISA courts, Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, etc. committed TREASON against a sitting US president!! All has now been announced by “ We The People!”
During a July 12 hearing before the House committee investigating the January 6 uprising, Ayres testified that he felt as though Trump had called him to Washington that day. He said he believes Trump will join them on Capitol Hill and hopes that the 2020 presidential election results can be overturned in favor of the Republican incumbent.
“I felt like a blind man riding a horse. I was locked up the whole time,” Ayres said.
Ayres told committee members that he and others decided to leave the Capitol shortly after Trump tweeted at 4:17 p.m. to send his supporters home.
In a court filing accompanying his plea, Ayres agreed that he would stay at the Capitol for about 10 minutes. But his testimony about Trump’s tweet showed he actually stayed in the building for about 90 minutes, according to prosecutors.
Following her testimony, Ayres apologized to former Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges and former MPD officer Michael Fanone, who were present at the audience. Fanone told the Associated Press the apology was unnecessary because “it didn’t benefit me.”