Jury Convicts First Jan. 6 Rioter Who Entered The Capitol

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Mariane Angela Contributor
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A federal jury convicted the first Jan. 6 rioter to enter the Capitol building Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Michael Sparks, 46, was convicted over his participation in the breach which aimed to object to the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win in 2020, according to the AP. Sparks entered the Capitol building by leaping through a window shattered by another rioter, according to the outlet. The jury found him guilty on all six charges, including two felonies, the outlet stated. He reportedly chose to not give testimony during his trial. His sentencing by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly is set for July 9, 2024, according to the outlet.

Sparks traveled to Washington, D.C. from Kentucky with colleagues to attend President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” Jan. 6 rally near the White House, the AP reported. After the event, Sparks and his coworker, Joseph Howe, were reportedly part of a crowd heading towards the Capitol. Video recorded Howe stating their intention to breach the building, with Sparks noting their actions would be contingent upon Pence upholding the Constitution in a manner which would allow Trump to stay in power, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Facebook Says Trump Is Suspended For 2 Years Over Jan. 6 Riots)

“Michael Sparks was more prepared for battle than some of the police officers he encountered that day,” Justice Department prosecutor Emily Allen said during the trial.

Sparks spearheaded the charge moments before senators were compelled to evacuate, the AP reported. Prosecutors portrayed him as eager for conflict. “The defendant was ready for a civil war. Not just ready for a civil war. He wanted it,” Allen stated, the outlet reported.

Acknowledging Sparks’ guilt on lesser counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct, defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf argued against the felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding, suggesting that Sparks was unfairly singled out for the collective actions of the mob, according to the outlet.

“Michael Sparks may have started the game, according to the government, but he was out of the game on the sidelines before the first quarter was over,” Wendelsdorf told jurors, the outlet reported.

Wendelsdorf reportedly argued that blaming Sparks for the chaos and damage caused by the rioters was unjust. He claimed Sparks distanced himself from the Capitol as soon as it became clear Vice President Mike Pence would not heed President Donald Trump’s urging to overturn Biden’s electoral win, according to the AP.