A federal judge Wednesday sentenced a former West Virginia state lawmaker for participation in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Derrick Evans to three months imprisonment and three years subsequent probation. Evans expressed relief that the saga was over and his sentence was much less than it threatened to be.
Evans was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in the 2020 general election. He began his representation of that state’s 19th district on December 1, 2020.
His term in office ended the following month with his resignation after attending a rally conducted by former President Donald Trump in the nation’s capital. Justice Department officials criminally charged Evans on January 8, 2021, with two misdemeanors for unlawfully entering a U.S. Capitol building.
Evans said that when he boarded a bus bound for the Trump rally in Washington, D.C., he had no idea things would happen the way they did that historic day.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected anything like that to happen,” said Evans in a telephone interview with Resist the Mainstream.
“I went to exercise my freedom of speech but ended up being politically persecuted.”
There was no coordinated operation to invade the Capitol that he was aware of, and he opined people alleging a vast right-wing conspiracy are full of it.
“They were not there,” the former state delegate said about the political patriotism displayed. “Yes, we went to support Trump but we were also there to send a message that Conservatives are fed up with political tyranny and trying to control our lives.”
When asked if he thought federal agents or D.C. Metro police had been embedded in the crowd to egg them on or entrap them, he replied, “I really don’t know.” He reported no negative interactions with any law enforcement officers that chaotic day.
According to a Metro News report, a live-streamed video briefly appeared on social media last year that showed Evans approaching a law enforcement officer after he clears the Capitol door. Evans said he went straight to the officer to see if he was going to tell us to leave and told him there was nothing personal against him.
“He seemed like he was relaxed and he gave me a fist bump,” recalled Evans, “so I walked in because I felt that was the same as him saying I could be there.”
Evans could be heard in the video shouting at people around him, according to the criminal complaint filed against him. “No destruction of anything and no vandalizing property,” he yelled out, according to the FBI agent who submitted the complaint.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin announced two days later in a press conference his office had charged and arrested Evans on two misdemeanors stemming from the riot. Evans resigned the following day, upon advice from his lawyer.
“The RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in W.Va. wanted to vote me out anyway,” he explained. “It would have been close and my lawyer informed me it would be used against me by the government.” He said Lamberth alluded to his immediate resignation as one reason for showing leniency in sentencing. At one point, Evans had faced up to 24 years in prison and up to $400,000 in fines.
The Justice Department upped the stakes when the complaint against him was amended May 3, 2021, to four misdemeanors. The former delegate from the Mountain State said he had reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. that knocked his charges down to one misdemeanor, which he agreed to plead guilty to.
Just days before the plea bargain agreement was to be signed off on, the deal was yanked off the table, he said. He added that the prosecutor he had been dealing with told him it was out of his hands from then on.
“He said the order came from the highest level of the Justice Department,” Evans said. He added the prosecutor further informed him that all future negotiations would pass through him up to the top of the chain of command and flow back down.
A federal grand jury added a felony charge against him when they issued their July 2021 indictments.
Evans pleaded guilty to one felony charge of civil disorder on March 18, which carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a potential $50,000 in fines. He was allowed to remain home until his sentencing.
Lamberth conducted the June 22 sentencing in a Zoom video conducted over the Internet that Evans joined from his Prichard, W.Va., home.
The father of four young children — two boys and two girls, aged 6, 4, 2 and 1 — told Lamberth he was a good person who got caught up in the moment.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he said at his sentencing.
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