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'The country is watching' | Judge goes above DOJ's request, sentences Ohio couple who entered Capitol to jail time

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said a sentence that didn't include time behind bars wouldn't be a sufficient deterrent against calls to subvert democracy.

WASHINGTON — An Ohio husband and wife will each serve jail time for their role in the January 6 Capitol riot after a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the government’s home detention request was insufficient.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ordered Brandon Miller to serve 20 days behind bars for live streaming himself after climbing through a broken window into the besieged U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. His wife, Stephanie Miller, was ordered to serve 14 days in jail for also entering the building. Both will have to complete 60 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution.

In its sentencing memo, the Justice Department asked for the Millers to each serve a period of home detention as part of a 36-month probationary period. Prosecutors included text and Facebook messages from the couple, including one from Stephanie in which she claimed she “enjoyed every part of what we did and was a part of.”

“We’re hoping we don’t get charges, but we’ll proudly take them if so,” she wrote in a private Facebook message.

The Millers’ attorneys described both as people who had lived hard lives and who had already experienced significant ostracism as a result of their arrests. William Welch, the attorney for Brandon Miller, said Brandon’s grandmother had refused to speak to him since he was charged. Welch suggested community service and a shorter period of probation would be an appropriate sentence.

But Chutkan rejected both the DOJ and defense attorneys’ suggestions and said what happened on January 6 warranted jail time for both Millers.

“They didn’t just walk through a door. They climbed through a broken window… they knew full well of the violence that had preceded their entry,” Chutkan said. “The fact is that they were part of a mob… that was intent on stopping the lawful transfer of power.”

“It amounted to an attempted overthrow of the government,” Chutkan said. “I don’t believe that’s hyperbole.”

Chutkan also said she had heard a lot from the Millers and other defendants about how their lives have been affected by their involvement in January 6, but nothing about the people who were inside the Capitol that day.

"I never hear any remorse for the people who suffered that day. For the police officers who lost their lives. For the people who worked in that building who were terrified they'd never see their families again," Chutkan says. "All I hear about is how the defendants suffered."

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Chutkan has gone above the DOJ’s sentencing request for January 6 defendants. In October, she sentenced Matthew Mazzocco, of Texas, to 45 days in jail despite a request from the DOJ for only home confinement. At the time, Chutkan said she didn’t believe a sentence of probation would reflect the seriousness of the crime – something she repeated this week.

"The country is watching,” Chutkan said. “There have to be consequences for participating in the attempted violent overthrow of the government."

The Millers will be allowed to stagger the starts of their sentences so one or the other will be out to take care of Stephanie’s minor son.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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