A Virginia woman who stormed the Capitol alongside her realtor husband while holding a sign protesting COVID vaccines wanted to set the record straight as she pleaded guilty on Monday, telling the judge that her angry Facebook messages about the insurrection also included “kind” words like “pray for America.”
Jessica Bustle and her husband, Joshua, pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building after participating in the Jan. 6 riot alongside thousands of MAGA supporters. Prosecutors allege that Jessica was holding a sign which read in part, “VACCINE INJURY is the REAL PANDEMIC” during the siege while Joshua followed behind her filming until they were ultimately forced out by authorities.
“I wanted to say I’m admitting guilt to the things that I said and that I’m sorry for saying what I said. Also, there were other things that were said in the posts that were kind, like ‘Pray for America.’ Those aren’t the full things that I wrote,” Jessica Bustle said during her Monday hearing after Judge Thomas Hogan read the offenses against the couple.
The Bustles are among over 400 individuals who have been charged in the siege—and the third and fourth rioters to cop to their crimes. According to their plea agreement, the couple agreed to a possible maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. They have also agreed to pay $1,000 total in restitution.
Prosecutors allege that Jessica Bustle meticulously documented her participation in the Capitol riot with her husband on Facebook, including uploading videos of the siege and writing several posts about her experience.
Just before the Bustles stormed the Capitol, Jessica posted a selfie on Facebook alongside the caption: “We don’t win this thing sitting on the sidelines. Excited to stand for truth with my fellow patriots and freedom fighters in DC today. Lessss do this.” Jessica was also wearing a knit cap with the phrase “LIONS NOT SHEEP” in the photo taken in a car, with her anti-vaccine sign visible in the backseat.
In another Facebook post, Jessica wrote: “Pence is a traitor. We stormed the capital. An unarmed peaceful woman down the hall from us was shot in the neck by cops. It’s insane here….Pray for America!!!!”
Bustle wrote in another lengthy post that she and her husband spent a majority of Jan. 6 “at the Health Freedom Rally which was a couple of blocks over from the Trump Rally. When we finally decided to head over to the capitol we were let in...like literally, my husband and I just WALKED right in with tons of other people.”
While inside the Capitol, Jessica wrote that law enforcement was “nice” to them and even agreed with them about “not taking the CV Vax.”
She also added that it was “Antifa puppets” that “infiltrated the rally” and were the true perpetrators of chaos during the siege that forced lawmakers to go into hiding for hours and left five dead.
“We need a Revolution,” Jessica Bustle wrote in the post. “Keep praying for America and its people.”
But while the Bustles on Monday admitted to storming the Capitol, Judge Hogan said he needs up to six weeks to determine their sentence.
“I’m not prepared to do sentencing today. I think we have to look at the case a little bit,” Hogan said, adding that he wants to ensure “consistency and comparability” against other Capitol rioters. To date, none of the accused rioters have been sentenced.