UNITED STATES NEWS

High school student who sat in Pence’s chair during Capitol riot is sentenced to 1 year in prison

Jul 26, 2023, 10:07 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high school student who stormed the U.S. Capitol, assaulted a police officer and sat in a Senate floor chair reserved for the vice president was sentenced on Wednesday to one year in prison.

Georgia resident Bruno Joseph Cua was 18 when he attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, making him one of the youngest people charged in the riot.

Before learning his sentence, Cua apologized for his actions and told U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss that he is ashamed of his role in a mob’s “attack on democracy.”

“Everything that day was just one terrible decision after another,” said Cua, now 21.

Moss sentenced Cua to a prison term of one year and one day followed by three years of supervised release. The judge convicted Cua of felony charges after a trial earlier this year.

Moss told Cua that he was prepared to give him a longer prison sentence before he heard his statement in court on Wednesday. The judge said he believes Cua is truly remorseful.

“It’s a tragic case for the country. It’s a tragic case for you and your family,” the judge told him. “There are no winners in any of this.”

More than 1,000 people have been charged with Jan. 6-related crimes. Cua is one of at least six Capitol riot defendants born in 2002, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.

Cua’s attorneys cited his youth as grounds for leniency. His actions on Jan. 6 “reflect his immaturity at the time and the effects that the crowd had on such a young person,” defense attorneys wrote in a court filing.

Around the time of the riot, Cua was finishing online coursework to graduate from high school. Prosecutors said Cua’s age is “only slightly” a mitigating factor in his favor.

“Americans who reach the age of 18 are entrusted with several important responsibilities and duties including voting, joining the military, signing a contract, and serving on a jury. In this way, the law recognizes that an 18-year-old is capable of making mature decisions,” they wrote in a court filing.

Justice Department prosecutor Kaitlin Klamann said at least five Capitol riot defendants were younger than Cua on Jan. 6. Two of the five have resolved their cases and avoided prison terms. Both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses and were sentenced to probation.

Cua planned his attack weeks in advance, brought weapons to the Capitol, tried to terrorize congressional staffers and was repeatedly aggressive toward police, prosecutors said.

They added, “Cua played a unique and prominent role on January 6, opening the Senate Chamber to the rioters, escalating confrontations, and leading other rioters into and through the Capitol.”

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of four years and nine months for Cua. His lawyers asked the judge to sentence him to time served: the 40 days he spent in jail after his February 2021 arrest.

Cua said he was “scarred to my core” by his jail time. Another inmate assaulted Cua while he was jailed in Oklahoma, according to one of his lawyers.

“I did something stupid to land myself there, but it was traumatizing,” Cua said.

Other young rioters have received prison terms. In March, for example, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton sentenced Aiden Bilyard to three years and four months of incarceration. Bilyard, of Cary, North Carolina, also was 18 when he stormed the Capitol, pepper sprayed a line of police officers and used a bat to break into a Capitol conference room.

Cua and his parents drove from their home in Milton, Georgia, to Washington D.C., arriving a day before then-President Donald Trump spoke at his “Stop the Steal” rally. The Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Cua was armed with pepper spray and a metal baton — weapons given to him by his father — when rioters breached police lines on the west side of the Capitol, according to prosecutors. After climbing scaffolding, Cua entered the building through the Upper West Terrace doors and and walked down a hallway toward the Senate.

“As Cua walked down the hallway, he tried to open every single office door he passed by pulling on doorknobs, pounding on the doors with his fist, and kicking the doors,” prosecutors wrote.

They said Cua intended to intimidate staffers who were behind the doors as he yelled, “Hey! Where are the swamp rats hiding?”

Cua went to the third floor, where he shoved a Capitol police officer who was trying to lock doors to the Senate gallery. After the officer retreated, Cua entered the gallery, shouting “This is our house! This is our country!” Jumping onto the Senate floor, he sat in the chair for then-Vice President Mike Pence, leaned back and propped his feet up on a desk.

Then he opened a door, allowing dozens of other rioters onto the Senate floor. Before leaving, Cua rifled through desks belonging to Senators Charles Grassley, John Thune and Dianne Feinstein.

Moss decided the case against Cua without a jury in February, convicting him of obstructing the Jan. 6 congressional proceeding and assaulting a federal officer. The judge handed down the verdict after a “stipulated bench trial,” a proceeding in which Cua didn’t contest the facts supporting his convictions. He waived his right to a jury trial.

Prosecutors asked Moss to impose a $23,485 fine, which equals the amount of money raised by an online fundraising campaign called “Bruno Cua: An American’s Future at Stake.” The website said the funds will be used for Cua’s “many expenses in his pursuit of his freedom.”

United States News

Associated Press

Aid trucks begin entering Gaza under agreement with Egypt to bypass Rafah

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel on Sunday through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. But was unclear if humanitarian groups would be able to access the aid because of ongoing fighting […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

3 falcon chicks hatch atop the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in a nest built at the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels said Friday that the chicks hatched in a nesting box set up by the agency atop a 693-foot-tall (211-meter-tall) tower on […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Baltimore police fatally shoot a man who pulls gun during questioning; detective injured

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police officers in Baltimore fatally shot a man who pulled a gun while they questioned him in a different shooting, authorities said. A detective was shot in the chest, and his protective vest likely saved his life, Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters. Police were on the city’s south side investigating a […]

15 hours ago

Associated Press

California teenager arrested after crowd pounded and kicked a deputy’s car

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenager was taken into custody after a crowd of young people swarmed a deputy’s patrol car earlier this month, kicking and punching the vehicle before the deputy could drive away, a California sheriff’s office said this week. The 15-year-old male allegedly opened the driver’s door of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s […]

15 hours ago

Travelers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City...

Associated Press

Record broken for most travelers screened at US airports on Friday, according to TSA

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports.

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Biden’s message to West Point graduates: You’re being asked to tackle threats ‘like none before’

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Saturday told graduates of the U.S. Military Academy that their class is being called upon to tackle threats across the globe and preserve the country’s ideals at home “like none before.” Biden said the phrase, the class motto, was apt for the sorts of challenges they […]

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

High school student who sat in Pence’s chair during Capitol riot is sentenced to 1 year in prison