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‘QAnon Shaman’ Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge Stemming from Jan. 6 Riot

September 3, 2021 by Dan McCue
Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, during the Capitol riot in Washington on Jan. 6. He pleaded guilty on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, to a felony obstruction charge. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Arizona man who wore a fur hat with horns and decorative body paint as he joined the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge and could serve up to 51 months in prison.

Jacob Chansley, who once called himself the ‘QAnon Shaman’ was widely photographed amidst the mayhem that transpired during the riot. For much of that afternoon, he carried a flagpole topped with a spear, and even took it into the Senate chamber.

On Friday, after U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth found him mentally competent to stand trial, a much more contrite Chansley said he was “appreciative for the court’s willingness to have my mental vulnerabilities examined.”

Chansley has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest eight months ago, and his attorney, Albert Watkins said his client’s time in solitary had damaged his mental health.

At the same time, Watkins said, Chansley’s transfer to a facility in Colorado for his mental health evaluation had a largely positive effect on him.

Again Chansley told the judge, “I am very appreciative.”

Chansley then pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing an official proceeding, for which he could receive 41 to 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

Chansley also asked that he be released from jail while he awaits sentencing.

Judge Royce Lamberth said he would consider the request and set a sentencing date of Nov. 17.

Chansley was among the first wave of pro-Trump rioters to force its way into the Capitol building. 

In addition to posing for photos, he loudly declared that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a traitor and he then left Pence a note that said, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” 

Chansley is one of about 600 people charged in the riot that forced lawmakers into hiding as they were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. 

Fifty others have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges of demonstrating in the Capitol.

Only one defendant who pleaded guilty to a felony charge has received punishment so far. Paul Hodgkins, a crane operator from Florida who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag, was sentenced in July to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to obstructing an official proceeding.

Watkins said his client has repudiated the QAnon movement since his arrest and asked that there be no more references to his past affiliations with the movement.

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