Prosecutors: Couple had 14-year-old teenager “in tow” during riot on Capitol Hill | National policy
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press
Federal prosecutors said Thursday a North Carolina woman deserves jail time for bringing her 14-year-old into the United States Capitol during the riot of January 6.
Virginia Marie “Jenny” Spencer and her husband Christopher had the child “in tow” when they joined other rioters who overwhelmed a line of police, invaded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and demanded entering the House chamber, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.
Prosecutors have recommended three months in jail for Jenny Spencer, who pleaded guilty in September marching, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. The offense is punished by six months imprisonment at most. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is due to sentence her Jan. 7.
Christophe spencer pleaded not guilty.
Previous court records in the Spencers case did not say the child was with them during the riot. In their memo, however, prosecutors cited the child’s presence as a factor in favor of jail time when a judge sentences Jenny Spencer.
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“Jenny Spencer’s participation in a riot that effectively shut down Congressional certification combined with the accused involving her minor child makes a jail sentence both necessary and appropriate in this case,” they wrote.
According to prosecutors, Jenny Spencer saw police fire tear gas and use impact grenades at the crowd before she and her husband entered the Capitol with their child about six minutes after the building was first breached.
Inside the building, the Spencers walked past police officers trying to hold back the crowd, then briefly entered Pelosi’s office suite, the memo reads.
“It should be noted that President Pelosi had staff members who were trapped inside this suite as rioters called on President Pelosi to get away from them,” prosecutors wrote.
Subsequently, the Spencers joined another group of rioters trying to enter the House chamber, where members of Congress were sheltering, prosecutors said.
“Although Jenny Spencer wasn’t at the front of this group and didn’t sing, for about nine minutes she was part of that particular crowd, who was chanting, ‘Stop the robbery! “and ‘Destroy it!’ in reference to the bedroom door of the House, ”prosecutors wrote, noting that Jenny Spencer had smoked a cigarette there.
After tear gas was used near the entrance to the chamber, the Spencers moved into a hallway where a rioter attacked a group of officers, prosecutors said. They said Christopher Spencer yelled vulgarities at the police as other rioters slipped furniture on top of the officers. The Spencers spent more than 30 minutes inside the building before stepping out onto a balcony, the memo said.
Jenny Spencer is a stay-at-home mom to her five children, prosecutors say. She was arrested in Durham, North Carolina, in February.
Lawyers for the Spencers did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
More than 670 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riots. At least 140 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges.
Prosecutors compared Jenny Spencer’s case to that of Boyd Camper, a man from Montana who brought his 10-year-old to the Capitol on January 6, but left the boy outside with a friend before storming the building. A judge sentenced Camper last month to 60 days in jail.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Jenny Spencer was among the first to accept responsibility.
“On the other hand, his actions of January 6, 2021, in particular, being adjacent to violent activity, bringing up his minor child and minimizing his role, left a stain on the history of this nation and underscores the need for a specific deterrent in this case. ,” they wrote.
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