Jan. 6 Convict With Asperger's Won't Go to Jail, Judge Decides

Nicholas Rodean, who carried a hatchet, will serve 240 days at home
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2022 4:52 PM CDT
Jan. 6 Convict With Asperger's Won't Go to Jail, Judge Decides
Jacob Chansley and Nicholas Rodean, right, square off with Capitol police officers on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

For almost 15 minutes in court Wednesday, Nicholas Rodean tried to explain his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and apologize for them. Frustrated by being unable to finish his sentences, the 29-year-old Maryland man put his hands on his head. US District Judge Trevor McFadden eventually told Rodean, who carried a hatchet at the Capitol that day and broke two windows with a flagpole, that his autism spectrum disorder significantly mitigated "the blameworthiness of your conduct." The judge sentenced him to 240 days of home confinement as part of five years probation, Politico reports, while pointing out that others convicted on similar charges received longer jail terms. "I'm giving you a real break here," McFadden said.

Rodean was photographed in the building confronting Capitol police with fellow defendant Jacob Chansley, who wore a horned helmet and face paint, while officers and Secret Service tried to get lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence to safety. Rodean's attorney told the court his client became obsessed with politics while isolated during the pandemic, per Politico. "I am really sorry about breaking the window," the defendant told the judge. "I am really sorry about other crimes that I did."

Prosecutors wrote in a filing last week that they saw no sign that Rodean regretted his conduct and recommended a 57-month term for him. They later dropped the recommendation to 21 months. But his lawyer asked the judge to consider the mental health of Rodean, who has Asperger's syndrome. "Autistic people do not fare well in prison," Rodean's sister told the judge. McFadden asked the defendant if he'll do such a thing again. "No," Rodean answered. Rodean, who was fired from his warehouse job the day after the riot, was also ordered to pay $2,048 for damage he caused to the Capitol building and to limit his internet access to 30 minutes per day, the Frederick News-Post reports. (More Capitol riot stories.)

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