“A Tale of an American Political Prisoner”

Part 17.3: The Federal Courthouse; Washington, DC

–The OathKeeper Sentencings Part 3–

by: Jessica Watkins (@X: @J6ssicaWatkins)

A True Story; 100% verifiable with Courtroom Transcripts, Court Documents, and Testimony.

After the Sentences of Stewart and Kelly, the DC Gulag decided to throw all the OathKeepers in The Hole. It was there, under those new terrifying pressures, where I languished overnight as I awaited my Sentencing the next morning. My Sentencing was scheduled for 9:30am, and Kenny Harrelson’s was scheduled for 1pm. I was first to go, and after the way that Stewart and Kelly had the book thrown at them, I was very nervous. When I was brought up into the Courtroom, it was the smallest I had been in yet. All 4 Prosecutors sat at a table across the room. At my table was me, Attorney Jonathan Crisp, and my paralegal Liz. My wonderful husband @MontanaSiniff, Ashley Babbitt’s mom Micki, Kenny’s wife Angel and a few others were in the Gallery. None of the Government’s witnesses (Dunn, Lazarus, or Owens) could be bothered to show up. I guess they had served their purpose during the Hearing. Other than a smattering of journalists, the Courtroom was essentially empty. That kinda struck me as odd, but I suppose that nobody cared. I had also exceeded my usefulness. I was found Not Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy, so that probably bumped me down the ladder into the “Second-Class J6er” Category. I secretly wondered how many had come to the Rhodes/Meggs Sentencing. The Judge walked into the Courtroom, and we were bidden “All Rise”. After a preliminary introduction, we got down to the next order of business: what “Departures” (Upward/Downward) the Judge felt would be warranted. OK, for all of you who have never faced a Federal Offense, let me describe how Sentencing works.

The “Highest Level Offense” is used as the baseline for the Sentencing, along what are known as the “Federal Guidelines”. Most of the time (including ours), the Sentences run “Concurrently” (together). It is rare that a Sentence runs “Consecutively” (back to back). In the Federal Guidelines, there are 2 Columns (Vertical and Horizontal) . The Vertical Column goes from a #1 to a #43. A #1 is like 0-2 Months. A #43 is Life in Prison for all Categories. Each of these numbers has a Range of months that the Judge should chose (a guideline) for the Sentence itself. The Horizontal Column is broken into Categories (0-6?) based on the Offender’s Criminal History. I had ZERO Criminal History (not even a Parking Ticket) so I was a Category 0 (Also known as a 0 Point Offender). The 1512(c)(2) “Obstruction of an Official Proceeding” Charge was my highest charge, the Statute of which carried a penalty of up to 20 Years. The Statute itself starts at a Base Level 14. At a Category 0, a Base Level 14 is (I think) 15-18 months in Prison. The Base Level can be modified at the Judge’s discretion however, using what are called “Departures”. There are Upward and Downward Departures. Upward Departures are called Enhancements. They add points to the Base Level. There are also Downward Departures that the Judge can use, to REDUCE the Base Level Offense. The Government was seeking to apply 100% of the Enhancements available, raising my Base Level from a 14 up to a 38. This would have resulted in an 18 Year prison sentence. Yeah. During the Hearing Judge Mehta had ruled in favor of every single Enhancement, deeming them justified for use against us. But in our individual Sentencings, he could add/dismiss each Enhancement based on our Defendant specific behaviors. At the beginning of my Sentencing, Judge Mehta had to determine if the Enhancements that the Government sought were applicable. This would determine how severe my Sentence would ultimately be.

I was facing a +8 Enhancement for “Obstruction of Justice” for deleting my Signal App (which we proved never even had evidence of Guilt – in fact, it was my one of my best ALIBIS). I never deleted any evidence that would have been desirable by Law Enforcement (photos, videos, texts, etc). They also used the Enhancement, because of my Trial Testimony statement where I said “…look at my face when I walked into the Hallway. I was smiling, laughing and having a good time. Then look at me after I left the hallway, I wasn’t laughing at all…” This statement was true (the video DOES show that). But Judge Mehta ruled in favor of the Government saying “Well, deleting yourself from the chat (Signal App) might have covered for your co-defendants actions”. (Although it didn’t, there was never anything incriminating on there – as admitted by the Prosecution) All it proved was my INNOCENCE. But that single Enhancement brought me up to a Level 22. The Government wanted a +12 Terrorism Enhancement added, despite no threats or actions of violence, I didn’t bring any weapons, nothing like that. The Judge did rule in favor of the Government, giving me a +3 Enhancement for Terrorism bringing me up to a Base Level 25. I was also given a +3 Enhancement for “Leadership”, so now I was a Base Level 28. I was given a +3 Enhancement for “refusing to accept responsibility”, (also known as a Trial Tax) because I didn’t take a Plea Deal (despite the fact that I TRIED to take a Plea Deal, and the Government only wanted me to plead Guilty to things of which I was found Not Guilty.). Yeah. Now I was a Level 31. Then I received a +3 for (I think) something related to the damage to the door. Not from anything I did, but for conduct of the crowd prior to my arrival (damage to the door and also I think assaults on Police). Now I was a Level 34. Then I got another +3 from… I don’t even remember anymore. I kind of lost track. It was all bulls*** anyway. This brought me up to a Level 37. I think the Judge ultimately Enhanced me all the way up to 250+ Months in prison. Yeah. After the Government had concluded giving each other high fives and taking a victory lap, it was our turn to offer testimony.

Look, I’ve pretty much had a s*** life. I suffered severe child abuse, I lost my military career after I was discovered for being transgender in the bad-ole-days of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” Era. That was it’s own rough thing (I was discovered, threatened and had to go on the run for a bit). I’ve been homeless. I was disowned by my family for nearly 15 years. I have suffered from PTSD, Anxiety, Depression… it’s been a rough life. All of this was shown in the Presentencing Investigation (PSI). So, the Judge takes everything into consideration. After all of that, I give my own personal testimony and I get to speak to the Judge (and the Nation) directly. Then the Judge makes an ultimate ruling. After the Government took their turn, it was my turn to give my testimony. I had written mine statement days before, and I stumbled up to the podium in shock to speak. I was a f***ing wreck, thinking Judge Mehta was going to sentence me to spend nearly 20 years in prison (for essentially Protesting in a Non-protesting area). I staggered to the front to give my testimony, and immediately started crying like an idiot. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I read off my script mostly, but I added a few impromptu things. The Government threw in a few last-minute lies, saying I was making fun of Capitol Police on a jail-call. That was a lie. I wasn’t. I was talking about specific cops who had done bad things on J6; including Police Brutality and talking about Officers that were “holding open the doors for the crowd, and then claiming PTSD later”. Which is all true, by the way. I talked about the Police Brutality by Sergeant Daniel Thau, who was completely out of control. I also talked about Officer Walker, who was a good Officer doing his job correctly and professionally on January 6th, when a pipe was thrown and smashed out his teeth and broke his nose, and my sympathy for him. I talked about my guilt – for the Hallway. I said “I understand my actions there were criminal” and took responsibility for what I DID do, but I continued to refuse to accept guilt (and still do today) for things I knew I was innocent of having committed; Conspiracy and Obstruction of an Official Proceeding. I DIDN’t commit those crimes, and I reminded Judge Mehta of this. saying “…my Jury was very nice, and they did their best. I actually grew quite fond of them. But I do believe that they got the verdict wrong. When I said ‘It’s over, Pence betrayed us’ on the Zello chat, I truly did think that the Certification of the Election was OVER. I didn’t mean to Obstruct ANYTHING! If you want to say I ‘accidentally Obstructed’, I can accept that. But I never ‘Conspired’ to do so! But I accept responsibility for what I did do, and I am truly sorry.”

After Judge Mehta heard my testimony, he was (I think) visibly moved. He didn’t seem happy about how everything panned out. He recessed to his chambers and I went into the holding cell in the back and broke down crying. I talked with the Marshals and told them about my history a bit. I was scared s***less. When they finally called us back into the Courtroom, Judge Mehta issued his final sentence. I do think he had a lot of regrets. You gotta understand, I really truly believe Judge Mehta is a good person. I KNOW that he IS compassionate. But I also think he has a subconscious bias against Jan Sixers that he isn’t aware he has. He even said that “This is really hard. I hate doing this part, to see what Ms. Watkins has gone through, and to have to do this. It is the judgement of this Court that Ms. Watkins serve a term of 102 months”. When that gavel stuck, I was floored. I had to serve 8.5 years. Eight and a half f***ing years, when people who beat Police were getting 4-5 years at MOST. The guy who smashed out 3 windows on the Capitol doors and then bodyslammed a Police Officer to the floor… he got 3 years. A man who threw fireworks at the Police inside the Lower West Terrace tunnel (probably Antifa), he got 2.5 years. People who peppersprayed Police got 3 years. The guy with the Confederate Flag called the Police the “N” word, and said “Where they countin’ the votes at? We need to stop them votes.” That guy got 3 years. A man who punched an Officer in the face got 3 years. I got Eight and a Half F***ing Years… and I didn’t hurt ANYONE. I was the one who WAS hurt. I didn’t threaten or hurt anyone. I didn’t destroy anything. I helped the injured, stopped vandalism and left the Capitol voluntarily – thanking Officers for their Service, while doing so. I surrendered myself to authorities, and I preserved evidence. And I got 8.5 years. My Attorney and the Prosecution did a last minute huddle to resolve one final item. I had been a woman for 20+ years at that point, and my attorney wanted Judge Mehta to make sure I was sent to a Womens prison. The Government even agreed that’s where I belonged. Remember this: that the Judge, the Prosecutors – everyone 100% agreed, I belonged in a Women’s prison. It will be relevant later.