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Judge gives Marine Civil War related sentence for Jan. 6

Protesters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
September 12, 2023

In a high-profile ruling, U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes sentenced Dodge Hellonen, an active-duty Marine, to probation and 279 hours of community service for his role in the Capitol storming on January 6, 2021.

According to The Associated Press, the community service time assigned to Hellonen corresponds to one hour for every Marine killed or wounded in the Civil War. The district judge’s ruling marks the first sentencing of the three Marines who participated in the January 6, 2021, Capitol storming, which sought to disrupt the certification process of President Joe Biden’s electoral win.

“I really urge you to think about why it happened so you can address it and ensure it never happens again,” Judge Reyes told Hellonen during the sentencing.

Reyes also reminded Hellonen of the commitment Marines have made throughout American history, emphasizing the sacrifices made in some of the country’s most difficult conflicts.

Prosecutors recommended short prison terms and 60 hours of community service for Hellonen and his co-defendants, Micah Coomer and Joshua Abate. However, Reyes departed from the recommendation, sentencing Hellonen to four years of probation instead.

Reyes acknowledged the gravity of Hellonen’s breach of duty as an active service member.

“The only person who can give you a second chance is yourself,” she advised Hellonen, who told the judge, “I take full responsibility for my actions, and I’ll carry this with me for the rest of my life.”

READ MORE: House GOP releasing January 6 footage – but there’s a catch

The three Marines reportedly drove from a Virginia military post to attend former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. All three subsequently pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building — a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Hundreds of participants in the events of January 6 have pleaded guilty to similar charges related to the Capitol storming. Notably, the three Marines were not accused of violence or destruction during the events of January 6.

More than 600 individuals have been sentenced for crimes related to the Capitol storming, over 100 of whom have military backgrounds, according to an Associated Press review of court records. Coomer and Abate await their sentences, set to be handed down later this week.

The case has raised profound questions about the role of military personnel in civil disobedience and has implications for how the justice system approaches individuals who have sworn to protect the U.S. Constitution.

As all three Marines are still on active-duty status, their military futures remain uncertain, pending the results of internal reviews, which could lead to less-than-honorable discharges, according to The Associated Press.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.