One year ago, Americans watched as people — some from Denton County — marched from a rally for then-President Donald Trump to the U.S. Capitol building, forcing their way past barricades and windows.
Since then, at least 725 people from all 50 states have been arrested on charges ranging from entering the Capitol building without permission to assaulting police officers, according to a Dec. 30 tally from the U.S. Department of Justice. Seven people with ties to Denton County are among them, from Jenna Ryan’s arrest days after the riot to Trophy Club’s Kerry Persick’s arrest in May 2021.
As the one-year anniversary comes Thursday, a University of North Texas law school professor says sentencing for defendants will most definitely continue past 2022.
“As of Dec. 10, there were about 50 sentences,” Michael Maslanka said. “Most of those were misdemeanors. … And what’s happening is generally these misdemeanors are the nonviolent offenders of Jan. 6. What’s taking longer to wind through the system are the felonies, and it’s because you can go to jail [longer].”
Those felony cases have much more at stake, Maslanka said. He said one of the continuing issues going into 2022 is people being denied bail in their cases because they did something reckless prior to the riot or engaged in violence there and judges deeming them flight risks.
The longest sentence so far is for a Florida man who threw a wooden plank-like spear at police officers and threw a fire extinguisher at them in the midst of severe fighting at the Capitol’s lower west terrace. Robert Palmer was sentenced to just over five years in prison.
Palmer’s sentence came months after he pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement with a dangerous weapon.
One Denton County resident, Daniel Ray Caldwell, is once again asking a U.S. District Court judge to reconsider conditions for his release, according to a Dec. 27 court filing. Caldwell is accused of assaulting officers by spraying an orange mist toward a police barricade line.
Court records show a Texas Eastern District Court judge ruled he should remain in jail pending trial due to his previous criminal history, which included a history of violence, weapons use and substance abuse.
David Lee Judd, a Carrollton resident who allegedly threw a flaming object at Capitol police officers, was released on a personal recognizance bond months after his arrest in March 2021.
Both of their cases remain pending a jury trial. Jury trials are also pending for Persick, Jason Lee Hyland and Katherine “Katie” Schwab. Hyland and Schwab’s cases are connected to Ryan’s because the three of them flew together from Denton to attend Trump’s rally.
While the three of them pleaded not guilty after their arrests, Ryan changed her plea a few months ago and was sentenced in November to 60 days in prison.
Ryan was supposed to turn herself in to the Federal Bureau of Prisons this month, but she ended up surrendering early. Federal records show she’s at Federal Prison Camp Bryan in Brazos County, a minimum security federal prison for women.
A year after the riot, more than 350 participants remain unidentified, according to the DOJ. In the Dallas division of the FBI, a spokesperson said they’ve arrested 35 people. Denton County is in its jurisdiction.
Those North Texas area arrests have continued throughout 2021. FBI Dallas spokesperson Melinda Urbina said two men in their jurisdiction were arrested on Dec. 13. Both are accused of fighting with police officers.
There isn’t an indication of any cases dropped against people on the DOJ’s update. Arrests would come up to 1,000 if the more than 350 people federal agents are still trying to identify come into custody.
“For us, as leads come down that there’s a possible subject in our area, we’re still working on those,” Urbina said. “That has not stopped. It’ll continue because the amount of outstanding people who have not been identified is pretty large.”