WASHINGTON, DC — Doug Jensen, the Iowa construction worker who was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty on all seven criminal counts related to the assault in a trial that ended Friday.
After deliberating for about four hours, the 10-man, 2-woman jury unanimously found Jensen guilty of crimes ranging from civil disorder to obstruction. Sentencing on the five felonies and two misdemeanors is scheduled for Dec. 16.
The Des Moines resident’s case was among the most high profile for individuals who stormed the Capitol last year in hopes of halting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
At times during the trial, Jensen kept a close eye on exhibits that were presented. In others, he looked down at his lap of him, wearing dark jeans and a salmon colored checkered shirt – attire that is in stark contrast to the QAnon T-shirt he wore when he was in the Capitol building.
As the guilty verdicts were announced, Jensen’s wife April quietly cried as she sat in the second row of the courtroom behind him. Jensen blew a kiss to his wife when he came in to receive the verdict and she blew a kiss back when he was on his way out. In custody before the trial, Jensen remained in custody after the verdicts.
“We had a very conscientious jury and respect their verdict,” Jensen’s attorney, Christopher Davis told reporters afterwards. “This is a sad case. Doug Jensen is a good man who was struggling back when all of this occurred. He has a loving wife and family. I hope they can come back from all of this.”
The most serious charge against Jensen was obstructing an official proceeding, which carries a maximum 20-year sentence, compared to maximum terms of five years for civil disorder or one year for entering restricted grounds or impeding a police officer. But defendants typically don’t receive maximum sentences under federal guidelines.
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“Doug Jensen would not be stopped on Jan. 6 until he got what he came for: to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” prosecutors said in their closing argument.
William Miller, a spokesperson for the DC attorney general’s office, said the prosecution would not comment on the case beyond what was stated or submitted in court, but told USA TODAY a news release is forthcoming.
Any post-trial motions made by the defense must be filed by Oct. 14. The prosecution’s response is due Oct. 28.
Jensen’s prior record mostly involved minor offenses: a dismissed shoplifting charge in 1997, when he was 18, driving with a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender in 2001, and trespassing in 2006.
The most serious charge came in 2015 in Rochester, Minnesota, where Jensen was arrested and charged with two counts each of assault, domestic assault and disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty to one count of domestic assault and one count of disorderly conduct.
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Longer sentences so far from Jan. 6 crimes have tended to go to defendants who attacked police officers. The longest was 10 years given to a retired New York police officer and Marine veteran, Thomas Webster, who attacked and choked an officer.
Prosecutors have recommended seven years, two months for Iowan Kyle Young, who pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding a police officer. He is set to be sentenced Sept. 27.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 850 people in 48 states with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, and arrests continue. Jensen’s case was only the ninth to go to trial.
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It was never a question whether Jensen was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“This is not a ‘whodunnit’ case,” Davis said in his closing remarks, a comment he also made in his opening remarks.
“We know whodunnit,” Davis added, describing Jensen as the “Where’s Waldo” of the Capitol attack.
The prosecution’s case leaned heavily on extensive video and photographs of Jensen parading through the Capitol, along with testimony from several members of law enforcement who clashed with him in the building.
“Jensen was the rioter who would not back down,” prosecutors argued. “If it wasn’t all recorded from at least 10 different angles, it’d be pretty hard to believe.”
Central to the prosecution’s argument was Capitol police Officer Eugene Goodman — who a reporter’s viral video showed being pursued by Jensen up a Capitol stairway — and other officers who testified in the trail Jensen as “aggressive, “arrogant,” and at one point, the “leader of the mob” .”
Jensen’s pursuit of Goodman “was not a game of follow the leader; that was Officer Goodman in survival mode,” prosecutors said.
The defense argued that despite Jensen’s confrontational demeanor, he did not wield weapons like many of the other protesters and did not act in concert with the other rioters in the building, urging the jury to judge Jensen on his actions alone.
“Jan. 6 is not sitting at that table; Doug Jensen is,” Davis said in his closing remarks.
Goodman, who was hailed as a hero for steering protesters away from the Senate chamber, where lawmakers were being evacuated, testified that “QAnon Shaman” Jake Angeli held a flag that appeared to be sharpened like a spear and that other protesters had bats and flags that they used to produce officers. Jensen did not, I have conceded.
The defense also made a distinction between the Capitol rioters “dressed in costume” and those “dressed for battle,” claiming Jensen was among the former.
Jensen’s outfit that day — a beanie and the black shirt with a giant “Q” on it, in homage to the conspiracist movement QAnon — makes him easily identifiable in images from the riot.
He told FBI agents in an interview at Des Moines police headquarters a few days after the riot that he wore the shirt so Q, the anonymous purported government official who is the purported voice of the conspiracy theory, would get credit for the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
In closing arguments, the defense asked members of the jury to remember how they felt during the pandemic, when cities were ghost towns and isolation was the norm.
Davis, Jensen’s attorney, claimed that the pandemic “did weird things to everyone” — perhaps, Jensen more than others, he argued. I have repeatedly described Jensen as “a confused man.”
“I believed (QAnon),” Davis said. “I honestly believed it…There’s no other explanation for what he did that day.”
Contributing: Bart Jansen