WASHINGTON — A former West Virginia legislator who stormed the U.S. Capitol on behalf of former President Donald Trump while livestreaming his felonious activity on Facebook was sentenced to three months in prison Wednesday.
Derrick Evans, who had been sworn in as a Republican state delegate just a few weeks before the Capitol attack, was arrested and charged just after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. He pleaded guilty this March.
Justice Department prosecutors had sought the three-month sentence for Evans, saying he cheered on rioters and told his followers, "The revolution has started!” His attorney told the court that being arrested and pleading guilty to a felony have "been a humbling experience for him" and noted that, as a result, he can no longer possess a weapon.
Evans appeared virtually for his sentencing, his head framed by a large portrait of him and his family. He told the judge that he took responsibility for his actions and that he'd let down his family. He said he regretted that his actions would leave his kids "fatherless for months."
'I can't just give you probation in a case like this'
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth was sympathetic and noted Evans' "impressive" support system. But he said that he felt incarceration was necessary and that he initially had been inclined to give Evans six months.
"I can't just give you probation in a case like this," Lamberth said. He added that he wished Evans the best, saying he didn't think he'd see him again and that he thought Evans could "live a good life again" after prison.
Several of Evans' supporters in his legal case downplayed his conduct on Jan. 6 and indicated they, too, believed in Trump's lies about the 2020 election. Evans, a supporter wrote in a letter to the judge, rushed the Capitol "as a form of peaceful protest" and was there "with the greatest of intentions." A letter credited him with “showing up to show support” at the U.S. Capitol. Another supporter described him as a role model. Wrote another supporter: “America would be a much better place to live if there were more people as passionate and caring as Derrick Evans.”
In the lead-up to Jan. 6, prosecutors said, Evans posted images on Facebook that read "FIGHT FOR TRUMP" and "JANUARY 6, We're Comin'!"
On Jan. 6, Evans livestreamed from the eastern side of the Capitol as rioters confronted police.
“We’re taking this country back whether you like it or not! … Shame on all of you! … You listen to your liberal mayor instead of the Constitution … Patriots ain’t being quiet anymore. Patriots ain’t gonna stand down to tyranny anymore! Patriots ain’t gonna stand down for stolen elections anymore!” prosecutors said he yelled.
“I bet Trump would pardon anybody who gets arrested for goin’ in there," Evans said on the livestream.
Later, inside the Capitol, Evans recorded himself screaming, “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!" Evans admitted recording the video in his agreed-upon statement of offense.
Evans is one of more than 825 people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection and one of more than 310 who have pleaded guilty. There are still hundreds more cases to come. As NBC News has reported, online sleuths have identified hundreds of additional people who either entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 or assaulted officers outside the building and haven't yet been arrested.
The House committee investigating the attack has another public hearing set for Thursday that will focus on Trump's efforts to get Justice Department officials to weaponize the FBI and the Justice Department on behalf of his efforts to overturn the election.