Dustin Byron Thompson, an Ohio man whose attorney argued that he was following former President Donald Trump's orders when he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty Thursday of felony obstruction of an official proceeding and five misdemeanors, including stealing a coat rack from an office inside the Capitol.
The federal jury returned its verdict in less than three hours. For the felony obstruction count, Thompson faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for July 20.
Thompson's attorney, Samuel Shamansky, had argued that his client believed Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, and was acting at the direction of the "gangster" former president, who wanted supporters to do his dirty work. "The vulnerable are seduced by the strong, and that's what happened here," Shamansky said in his closing statement.
On Wednesday, Thompson took the stand and said he regretted his "disgraceful" behavior at the Capitol, and admitted to stealing the coat rack and a bottle of bourbon. "I can't believe the things that I did," he said. "Mob mentality and group think is very real and very dangerous." Thompson added that he believed Trump's election claims, and "if the president is giving you almost an order to do something, I felt obligated to do that."
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton called Thompson's testimony "totally disingenuous" and his actions at the Capitol "reprehensible." After the jury returned its verdict, Walton said "charlatans" like Trump only care about being in power, and he believes "our democracy is in trouble."
One of the jurors, a 40-year-old man who asked to remain anonymous, told The Associated Press that Trump "wasn't on trial in this case." He added, "Everyone agrees that Donald Trump is culpable as an overall narrative. Lots of people were there and then went home. Dustin Thompson did not." During his testimony, Thompson said he took the coat rack so other rioters wouldn't use it against police, and the juror said at that point, he was "laughing under my breath." Read more at The Associated Press.