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News / Nation & World

Idaho man who dangled from Senate balcony during Capitol riot receives 15-month prison sentence

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press
Published: May 10, 2023, 3:16pm

An Idaho man who traveled to Washington in a car loaded with weapons and was photographed dangling from the Senate balcony during the Capitol riot was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison.

Josiah Colt, one of the first rioters to reach the Senate floor on Jan. 6, 2021, later pleaded guilty that year to obstructing Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s White House victory.

Also Wednesday, a man who accompanied Colt to the District of Columbia in a rental car with two pistols, knives, a stun gun, body armor and other gear was sentenced to about three years in prison, according to court records. Las Vegas resident Nathaniel DeGrave, who also entered the Senate gallery, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and assault charges last year.

Both men had agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of their plea deals.

Prosecutors say Colt, DeGrave and a third man, Ronald Sandlin, came to Washington prepared for violence and were intent on stopping lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 election as they joined the angry mob of then-President Donald Trump supporters in storming the Capitol.

On Dec. 31, 2020, the men had discussed in a Facebook chat a plan for “shipping guns” to Sandlin’s home in Tennessee. Days later, Sandlin posted on social media a photo of Colt, who was lying in bed with his eyes closed and holding a handgun, with the caption: “My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6th.” Boogaloo is a term some extremists use to refer to a second civil war. Colt replied to the post, “Ready for any battle,” followed by a laughing emoji.

Colt, a 34-year-old from Meridian, Idaho, brought his pistol to a rally the day before the riot, but decided to leave it at a hotel on the morning of Jan. 6, authorities said. The three men watched on TV as Trump told his supporters in a speech before the riot to “fight like hell” or they were “not going to have a country anymore.”

After the riot erupted, the men entered the Capitol through the Upper West Terrace doors. They went to a hallway outside the Senate gallery, where Sandlin led a charge against police officers as Colt entered, according to prosecutors.

Colt shouted, “This is our House! This is our country! This is for the people!” before he jumped to the Senate floor. Sitting in a chair reserved for then-Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, Colt raised his fist as rioters cheered him on, prosecutors said. Colt opened a door and allowed dozens of other rioters to join him.

DeGrave, who carried a can of bear spray in his pocket, called on others on the Senate floor to “take laptops, paperwork, take everything,” according to court papers

Sandlin, of Millington, Tennessee, was sentenced in December to five years and three months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and assault charges.

Colt’s lawyers said in a court filing that Colt “is a good person who made a series of very bad choices based on misinformation and the emotional oratory of a demagogue.”

Prosecutors accused DeGrave of trying to capitalize on his participation in the attack by selling video footage of the riot to media outlets.

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“He has even profited off of his unlawful conduct on January 6 since being incarcerated — to the tune of over $120,000 — by seeking donations on crowd-funding websites claiming that he is a ‘political prisoner’ of a ‘corrupt Biden regime,’” prosecutors wrote.

DeGrave’s lawyer said in court papers that DeGrave regrets “allowing himself to be drawn into the world of those claiming ‘political persecution’ as a result of their actions on January 6.”

“Nathaniel recognizes the intellectual dishonesty of admitting the criminality of his own conduct on January 6 on the one hand, and complaining about unfair treatment by the criminal justice system on the other,” defense lawyer William Shipley added.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Nearly 500 of them have been sentenced, with more than half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 14 years and two months.

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