Another Trump Obsessed Jan 6 Rioter Found Guilty On Multiple Charges

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Erik Herrera, a 34-year-old man from California, was found guilty on Friday by a D.C. jury of five charges, including one felony, for participating in last year’s Trump-incited attack on the Capitol.

The felony of which Herrera was found guilty is obstruction of an official proceeding, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, although mitigating factors mean he will likely face a significantly shorter stint in jail. The defendant refused the chance to strike a plea deal, which presumably could’ve meant additional leniency. A deal proposed by prosecutors and rejected by Herrera required an admission to the felony criminal charge in exchange for dropping the four misdemeanors. His misdemeanor offenses include entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a Capitol Building; disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building.

Herrera, who spent time inside the Capitol building as the violence unfolded, characterized himself as a photojournalist, but he admitted in a private Instagram message obtained via warrant by federal authorities that he bought a “press” patch off Amazon. He held no apparent formal connection with any news organization, and images he captured were evidently never published in news reports. Herrera also admitted in another Instagram message that he acted “for the people” alongside any ostensibly journalistic considerations — thoroughly undercutting the idea he was some kind of impartial observer simply recording history. “I did what I had to do for both photojournalism and our people,” he said in the message. At one point, he was photographed holding a stack of papers inside the office of the Senate Parliamentarian.

In another message via Instagram, the defendant expressed support for conspiracy theories about the last presidential election. Herrera’s defense told the jury at trial there was correspondence between the defendant and a producer at the TV station KUSI — communications that allegedly concerned providing photojournalistic coverage of pro-Trump events in D.C., but The San Diego Union-Tribune said on Friday it wasn’t immediately clear whether federal Judge Beryl Howell, presiding over the case, allowed introducing the materials. (Prosecutors opposed the move.) Herrera himself posted the image to Instagram showing him inside the Senate Parliamentarian’s office — and that Instagram post was submitted, in the form of a screenshot, to the FBI, meaning he’s yet another one of the riot participants whose own gloating on social media helped lead to criminal charges. Herrera will be sentenced on November 10 of this year.

Herrera was convicted of all the charges he faced, continuing a trend of such a thing happening at every single jury trial of a Capitol rioter so far. The longest sentences imposed on Capitol rioters at this stage in the Justice Department probe are stints of over seven years apiece for Texas man Guy Reffitt and Virginia man Thomas Robertson, the latter of whom was a member of a small jurisdiction’s police force when the riot happened. Robertson was later fired from the force, as was a fellow member of the same force who traveled with him and participated in the riot alongside him before eventually striking a plea deal and testifying at Robertson’s trial.