J6 Defendants: Personal Stories of a Failed Judicial System

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Merrick Garland's Department of Justice (DOJ) is still arresting J6 attendees 31 months after the J6 Capitol breach. The DOJ allegedly plans to charge at least 1,000 more. All of the J6 defendants UncoverDC has spoken to believe the government will continue the arrests until someone or something stops them. Having spoken with many families, there is almost no doubt that most J6rs have been subjected to one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice ever witnessed in American history. The courts, especially the D.C. courts, have meted out overly harsh J6 sentences in what appears to be a systematic manner, seemingly motivated by political bias that has resulted in a wholesale deprivation of the Constitutional rights of everyday Americans. The sad truth is that outside the bubble of social media and certain echo chambers, many Americans have no idea this miscarriage of justice is even occurring.

The DOJ Capitol Breach website numbers do not seem to be precise. However, a recent accounting of the stats shows approximately 523 of the 939 J6 defendants listed on the DOJ website are in jail or prison. UncoverDC has spoken with many J6 defendants over the last year, as well as Cynthia Hughes, Founder of the Patriot Freedom Project. The conversations have been eye-opening and often tragic.

According to Hughes, the 523 incarcerated refers to a range in status, "Some of them are in pre-trial detention, some are awaiting transfer from jail to prison after sentencing, and others have been transferred and are serving prison time." The DOJ website shows that 69 or so have received probation of some kind, and approximately 347 are in limbo. Currently, sentences range from 2 months to 216 months, or 18 years. Frightened by the prospect of even harsher sentences and debilitating legal fees, many J6 defendants have entered plea deals knowing they were not guilty of the charges brought by the government.

The Patriot Freedom Project serves the families of those whose lives have been turned upside down by the aftermath of January 6, 2021. The project's focus is to help not only the defendants but the children of J6rs. Hughes has been extremely careful to interview and vet those who come to her for funding. Her organization has attracted some brave attorneys willing to stick their necks out for J6 defendants.

Hughes keeps a spreadsheet on the status of the families, and the site also connects Americans with J6 defendants who need letters of encouragement. As a result of her tireless work, Hughes may know more about J6 defendants and their families than anyone else. She says the DOJ website is inaccurate and thinks she can account for more than 1,200 defendants.

An August 6 announcement by the DOJ seems to come closer to confirming Hughes' numbers. It states that as of Aug.4, 2023, "More than 1,106defendants have been charged in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (This includes those charged in both District and Superior Court)."

DOJ announcement/Aug.62023/https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/31-months-jan-6-attack-capitol


The Sad Stories Behind the Numbers

The real story, though, is how the human beings behind those numbers are being treated, especially during the judicial process. J6rs tell stories of a justice system that overwhelmingly doles out sentences that do not reflect the offenses they committed. Those offenses range from standing outside the Capitol to wandering around inside taking photos to more serious behaviors like damaging property or, in a few cases, harming others.

What is abundantly clear, however, is that most do not deserve the sentences they've received. The judicial system has been weaponized, and, in many cases, the biggest fear is that the precedents being set by the courts in their cases will set a new bar for prosecution. For example, some believe those accused of RICO conspiracy charges and insurrection will later justify charging President Trump with the same.

Unlike some recent reporting, UncoverDC has confirmed with interviews that J6 defendants are no longer held in solitary confinement. The recent story on Ryan Samsel's solitary confinement abuse is likely untrue.

Hughes and several J6 defendants, including Derrick Evans, have confirmed that the jail conditions for the first 22 months represented the height of abuse in terms of jail conditions for J6 defendants. Two facilities, the D.C. Central Treatment Facility (CTF), the facility known as the D.C. Gulag, and the Northern Neck Regional Jail, treated J6 defendants both poorly and differently from others in the population. To this day, many are still being held pre-trial in those locations, even though they represent no flight risk or danger to the public at large. Rest assured, pre-trial detention for cases like these is almost unprecedented.

Hughes knows firsthand what happened at the D.C. jail because her adopted nephew, Timothy Hale, was in solitary from February 3, 2021, until Oct. 2022. Hughes explains:

"From February through July 2021, Tim was in solitary on a 23/1 schedule. 54 guys were in jail at that time. So these guys were in solitary for 23 hours a day and allowed out 1 hour a day. In October, those guys went to an alternating schedule. They were on two different floors, separated from the general population. The floors would alternate 19-hour days in solitary and, during the other hours, allowed to come out of the cell." 

UncoverDC spoke with several additional J6 defendants over the past few days. All agree that prisoners are no longer being subjected to solitary confinement. They say it is crucial to separate fact from fiction because the media often fails to report the truth. However, it seems consistently true that the cases being heard in D.C. courts, with politically biased judges and jury pools, are not treated fairly. In sum, it is not the jail or prison conditions that concern these families but how a weaponized justice system is adjudicating their cases.

As just one example of judicial weaponization, Derrick Evans told UncoverDC the courts are seizing money raised by various families to help defendants:

"The courts are starting to take people's money, the money families have worked tirelessly to raise. The courts take the money and apply it to bonds, restitution, and damages. And this is money J6rs might need to defend themselves.

In addition, the courts are handing out sentences that simply do not fit the crimes. People who took photos or broke windows do not deserve 4-year prison sentences. That is the stuff we all should be concerned about. It is absolutely a two-tiered system for almost all of us."

Evans cites the case of Isaac Yoder, whose worst "crime" was going inside the Capitol dressed as George Washington. Yoder was charged with parading, among other things. The government recommended, with Judge Lamberth presiding, that Yoder receive "13 months' incarceration, 36 months' probation, 60 hours of community service, $500 restitution, and a $16,646 fine — the same amount authorities said Yoder's sister raised for his defense on a crowdfunding site. They took the money his family raised" to pay for other things related to his case.


Journalist Arrested

On Saturday, UncoverDC spoke with Shawn Witzemann, a journalist and another J6 defendant whose life was destroyed by the courts. Witzemann traveled the country, embedding himself in Antifa/BLM rallies during the pandemic and the Proud Boys, a group of men he says is nothing like the mainstream media paints them to be. The child of hippies, Witzemann describes himself as "philosophically an anarchist and pragmatically a Constitutionalist." He has investigated J6 extensively, interviewing J6rs, reviewing cases, looking at the judges, and examining the government's posture. Witzemann believes the DOJ "went after a bunch of nonviolent people. It is absurd and a waste of resources," motivated by politics and funding for the FBI.

Witzemann entered the Capitol building to report on the events of the day. He wandered around peacefully, observing and filming as his internet connection would allow. He says he was charged for momentarily breaking from his journalist role to ask a Capitol Police officer to "Stand with us." He says it was a "breach of journalistic objectivity" he regrets. He told UncoverDC he lost everything in the year after his arrest, but it also "brought his family together." Witzemann explained:

"I'm [now] in a puny and extremely economically depressed town in South Central Missouri. Mountain View. I lost pretty much everything within a year of J6. My business collapsed, and I was forced to sell my home. I moved from Farmington, NM, to Mountain View and currently reside in a 24' camper trailer in my parents' yard. My boys live in my parent's house, and my Moon [his partner] works graveyard at a gas station. I am close to getting a little house to live in again—hopefully, [I] will be able to move in toward the end of next month."

Witzemann shares his thoughts on the day and subsequent sentence in a January 15, 2023, guest column for the Gateway Pundit (GWP)—his 79-page allocution letter to Judge Hogan in the D.C. United States District Court contextualizes his actions and is well worth the read.

For entering the Capitol as a journalist who asked an officer to "Stand with us," Witzemann was "convicted of a single Class B misdemeanor for Parading/Picketing in a Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Consequently, [he was] sentenced to 7 days of intermittent confinement (whatever that means), 2 years of probation, a $500 restitution payment to the Architect of the Capitol, and 60 hours of community service." 

In the same column, Witzemann explains that his "disturbing language...used to illustrate the facts about the day" after he left the hill probably also factored into his sentence. After all, as Witzemann observes, words that are "offensive" now qualify J6 defendants for any number of overly harsh punishments that "violate freedom of expression [without which] we are nothing more than slaves." An excerpt from his GWP column describes what he perceived to be "feigned horror" from the courtroom when AUSA Christopher Amore recited Witzemann's post J6 comments:


Witzemann agrees that the worst part about J6 is how defendants are treated in the judicial system. UncoverDC asked him about the rumored prison conditions specific to J6 defendants, whether any were in solitary confinement, or whether medications and treatments were being withheld. To that, he replied with striking objectivity that J6 prisoners are probably being treated no differently than others:

"Most people do not understand that a lot of these conditions have been standard in the Bureau of Prisons for decades. It is nothing that special. What is special with January 6 cases is the District of Columbia, and the fact that we can't get any of these cases moved out of that district when [organizations like] Condemned USA and work by Treniss Evans have absolutely put together the data and reports showing it is absolutely impossible to get a fair trial there. So that's the biggest problem, in my opinion."

According to Witzeman, Treniss Evans, a J6 defendant and founder of Condemned USA, has done incredible work investigating the politicized and weaponized system targeting over 1100 Americans. Condemned USA's 171-page report "The Weaponization of Justice in America" provides an exhaustive look at the persecution suffered by J6 defendants and the abuses of power associated with their arrests and their trials. Witzemann requested that UncoverDC not share the document outside of its paywall. Below is the FBI raid on Treniss Evans, who never engaged in anything but peaceful activity on January 6.


Early Morning Raids

Heavily armed FBI agents have raided many J6 defendants at the crack of dawn. Stephen Ondulich was raided at approximately 6 a.m. without warning over two years after January 6 at his home in rural Pennsylvania on July 19, 2023. Ondulich's only "crime" on January 6 was stepping just inside the threshold of the Capitol for approximately 90 seconds. An officer tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to leave, and he did.

However, the FBI captured some of Ondulich's conversations on Instagram the day after the January 6 protests. Ondulich defended the actions of others on January 6 in some colorful ways, but the FBI failed to see behind his intentions. None of what Ondulich said was turned into action. It was "words" that prompted the raid. He describes what he saw when the FBI arrived:

"I looked outside to my horror. There were multiple vehicles outside and armed individuals. At this point, I didn't know who they were. They said they were [the] FBI, but it didn't look like [the] FBI. To me, it was a military force outside. Full SWAT gear: body armor, tactical gear, bulletproof helmets, rifles, everything. The whole special weapons, arms unit.

They knocked on my basement door, which is at ground level. I am on the third floor. At one point, I encountered a drone flying around my house. They didn't give me time to get dressed. So, I proceeded to go down the steps of the basement. As soon as I turn the corner, I see my door open, and I don't remember the exact number—but maybe 4-5 or so agents with rifles pointed in my direction. Blatant disregard of firearm safety that I teach in my firearm safety classes. They weren't excessively hostile. But it was going through my head: why are so many people here? An armored vehicle outside my house? And why do they have all of their guns pointed at me? What threat am I to them right now?

They took me outside and put me against the bumper of the armored vehicle. At this point, I have no idea that this has anything to do with J6. I could not fathom what this was about. I was going through my head—have I done anything or said anything that would trigger an FBI response? What? What could it possibly be? I could not even think about it.

They were at the house from about 6 to 10 a.m. They took me to the FBI building in Pittsburgh and questioned me, and then I had to wait all alone in a room until around 3 p.m., pacing back and forth to hear my pre-trial conditions. I am free to move around with permission, but I now have to wear an ankle monitor."


The FBI made a mess of Ondulich's home. Clothes and papers were strewn everywhere, and multiple bars of soap were thrown around. Dirt was tracked in. They tore his desk apart with all his papers and went through personal stuff. The entire home was turned upside down. They cuffed his roommate, who had nothing to do with it.

"I write my prayers down on paper," said Ondulich, "I write things that I don't share with my own family on these papers. They went through very intimate stuff. They took all of my guns, dumped my ammunition all over the floor, took my phone, and unplugged everything in my house, including lamps, my internet, and my speakers. It's almost like if I would have had, you know, internal security cameras and that they're connected to the internet. They wanted to make sure that all of that quit working. It's like, what are you trying to hide?"

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