He pleaded guilty to sending threatening communications and faces a maximum potential prison term of five years, though prosecutors told the judge they’d only seek as much as two years. Meredith has been in jail since his arrest in January and will get credit for time served when he is sentenced in December.
The pace of guilty pleas has picked up in recent weeks, as the Justice Department tries to resolve dozens of lower-level cases involving nonviolent riot defendants, including a married couple from Ohio.
Past and future threats
At Meredith’s plea hearing, he told the judge that the vulgar and sexist messages he sent about shooting Pelosi were “political hyperbole,” before eventually admitting: “I sent the text.”
He planned to attend Trump’s January 6 rally, but because of car trouble, he arrived in DC after the insurrection. He acknowledged that he brought 2,500 rounds of ammunition, an assault rifle and another gun emblazoned with an American flag in his truck trailer. But as part of his plea agreement, he wasn’t required to plead guilty to the weapons charges that were initially filed.
“You are not allowed to attend that demonstration, do you understand?” US District Judge Rudolph Contreras told defendant Felipe Marquez, who, like most of the Capitol riot defendants, was previously ordered to stay out of DC while his criminal case is moving through the court system.
Marquez pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, which is a misdemeanor. He could face up to one year in jail, though most nonviolent rioters have received lighter sentences.
A married couple from rural Ohio also pleaded guilty Friday to illegally protesting in the Capitol, a misdemeanor akin to trespassing that many of the nonviolent rioters pleaded guilty to already.
After the attack, Stephanie Miller and Brandon Miller falsely claimed on Facebook that the day “was peaceful” and that “the media” was distorting what happened, according to court filings.
Their plea hearing was nearly derailed when the couple balked at a few provisions in the deal their lawyers had negotiated with the Justice Department. Brandon Miller claimed he hadn’t been told that he would need to do an interview with investigators about the riot. And Stephanie Miller said she wasn’t aware that prosecutors could examine her phone and social media accounts.
After a brief discussion with their lawyers, the Millers both moved forward with their guilty pleas. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan accepted their pleas and scheduled sentencing for December 1.
More guilty pleas are scheduled to occur in the coming weeks. Only six rioters have been sentenced so far, but more sentencing hearings are peppered throughout the rest of 2021.