The “QAnon Shaman” was punished on Wednesday with one of the harshest prison sentences yet for a Capitol rioter.
Jacob Chansley—the 33-year-old who notoriously stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a spear and bullhorn while wearing a horned headpiece made of coyote skin—was sentenced to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to several charges related to the riots.
Speaking in his own defense during the hearing, Chansley asked Judge Royce C. Lamberth for leniency—arguing that while he broke the law he has learned his lesson since his time in jail and solitary confinement.
“Men of honor admit when they’re wrong… I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse, no excuse whatsoever,” Chansley said on Wednesday, before insisting that he is not an “insurrectionist or a domestic terrorist.” “I am a good man who broke the law.”
During his nearly 45-minute rambling speech to the court, Chansley cited Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, the Stephen King prison film The Shawshank Redemption, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to argue he has changed since the Jan. 6 siege.
“I look up to Gandhi. I look up to Jesus. I want to mirror them,” Chansley said, before later asking Lamberth to listen to “my heart and my desire to live the life of Christ or Gandhi.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall had argued that Chansley—who pleaded guilty to civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and disorderly conduct in a restricted building on Sept. 3—should receive a sentence of 51 months. Noting that such a punishment would be the longest prison term yet for the MAGA rioters charged in connection with the riot, Paschall insisted that it was necessary to show “this defendant and any other, regardless of their creed, beliefs, political persuasion or otherwise—to anyone who may wish to do harm to this city, this country, this democracy, the message today is: Don’t.”
Meanwhile, Al Watkins, Chansley’s defense attorney, insisted on Wednesday that his client—a Phoenix, Arizona, native who quickly emerged as the face of the Capitol riot—was no longer a Trump-sympathizing conspiracy theorist and has been diagnosed with a schizotypal personality disorder.
Therefore, Watkins argued, Chansley should receive punishment “significantly below” the prosecution’s recommendation.
Lamberth, however, ultimately sided with prosecutors, stating that while he believed Chansley was genuine in his remorse “what you did here was horrific.” In addition to prison time, the judge ordered Chansley to participate in drug testing and mental health treatment. He must also pay $2,000 in restitution.
“What you did was terrible. You made yourself the center of the riot,” the judge added.
As one of the first people to breach the Capitol, Chansley was infamously photographed in his eccentric outfit alongside a group of like-minded MAGA rioters. In a criminal complaint, prosecutors argued Chansley was among a small group that stormed the Senate chamber while dozens of elected officials were forced to hide for hours. The others who stormed the Senate chamber included an Air Force vet holding zip ties and an armed Alabama man who said God told him to enter the building.
“The defendant then stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation’s lawmakers, and flouting the ‘opportunity’ to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors,” prosecutors said in the sentencing memo.
After getting into the chamber “by the grace of God,” Chansley admitted to authorities he sat in Vice President Mike Pence’s Senate dais seat because he “is a child-trafficking traitor,” according to court documents.
“It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,” Chansley wrote in a note left on Pence’s seat, though he claimed to the FBI that wasn’t a threat.
Authorities say that just one day after the insurrection, Chansley called the FBI to admit he was at the riots and that “he came ... with other ‘patriots’ from Arizona, at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C.,” a criminal complaint states.
Chansley was arrested on Jan. 9 and charged with six crimes, including civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and demonstrating in a Capitol building.
The feds also noted that prior to the riot, Chansley was a “self-proclaimed leader” of QAnon, a violent conspiracy theory that posits pedophiles and cannibals in the Democratic Party will be arrested and executed.
“The government cannot overstate the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct as one of the most prominent figures of the historic riot on the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” prosecutors said in the November sentencing memo. “His consistent rhetoric before and after the event, and his apparent ability to carry out his intentions of violently removing the ‘traitors’ in our government, is clear from the evidence in this case. Only the valiant efforts of law enforcement kept those upon whom he set his sights out of his path.”
In a January memo, prosecutors noted that Chansley lied to authorities about his drug use—telling them he only smoked weed “three times weekly in the past” even as he bragged on a podcast about taking mushrooms and peyote regularly.
“Additionally, a full portrait of Chansley’s apparent mental health issues—which he has publicly disseminated, and which include strongly-held false mystical beliefs and leadership in a dangerous extremist group, QAnon, founded on an imaginary conspiracy theory—were not [disclosed by him],” the memo says, adding that Chansley has previously said he thinks he’s “an alien.”
Since his arrest, Chansey has made headlines for his multiple attempts to get out of jail, including his infamous demand for organic food while in lockup because of his supposed Shaman faith. After claiming that he had not eaten in nine days because his Shaman faith bars him from eating the non-organic food provided in jail, Chansey was ultimately granted his dietary request.
Watkins previously told The Daily Beast that after his arrest Chansley has “gone through a period of introspection” and realized that he made himself “open to the propaganda from the former president.” One major factor in his wake-up call, Watkins said, was Trump apparently snubbing a pardon request from Chansley and other Capitol rioters. After Chansley’s guilty plea, Watkins also noted that his client has rebranded and now will only be referred to as “the Shaman.”
“This case is not about Donald Trump. It is not about politics. It is not about conspiracy theorists and those who embrace the resultant conspiracies,” Watkins wrote in his sentencing memo. “Mr. Chansley is not a political prisoner. He does not seek to be labeled such. “Rather, this case is about a frail and vulnerable human... one of our own (possibly our sibling, kin, friend, colleague, co-worker, neighbor).”