Four Inland Empire Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Capitol Breach

Four Inland Empire Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Capitol Breach

Four Inland Empire residents, Erik Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio Martinez, Derek Kinnison, and Ronald Mele, have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in the Capitol breach on January 6, 2021. The individuals attended then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and later crossed police lines to ascend the West Terrace of the Capitol, carrying bear spray.

Warner, 48, of Menifee, received a sentence of 2 years and 3 months, while Martinez, 50, of Lake Elsinore, and Kinnison, 42, of Lake Elsinore, were sentenced to 1 year and 9 months and 2 years and 9 months, respectively. Mele, 54, of Temecula, also received a sentence of 2 years and 9 months. Additionally, they were ordered to pay $2,000 restitution and complete 36 months of supervised release.

The defendants, who were linked to the Three Percenters militia movement, were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding, both felonies, after a 17-day jury trial. Warner and Kinnison were also convicted of tampering with documents or records, a felony. All four were found guilty of misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. Warner was the only one accused of entering the Capitol building.

The Three Percenters is an anti-government extremist movement that compares itself to American patriots who opposed the British during the revolution. The defendants’ attorney, Nicolai Cocis, stated that the government had initially sought a sentence of 8 years and a $48,000 fine for Kinnison. However, the judge recognized the potential for rehabilitation and deemed the government’s requested sentence as harsh and inappropriate.

The defendants accepted responsibility for their actions and did not minimize their conduct, according to Cocis. They expressed remorse and were not proud of their behavior.

The men were charged in the same indictment as former rally organizer, Hostetter, who was previously sentenced to 11 years in prison. Hostetter used a bullhorn to encourage the crowd to break through the police line at the Capitol. He was convicted of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry on a restricted building or grounds.

On January 6, the defendants attended the rally at the Ellipse and subsequently headed towards the Capitol. As they approached the Capitol, Kinnison announced, “This is the storm of the Capitol.” Warner joined protesters climbing the northwest stairs to the Upper West Terrace, while Martinez, Kinnison, and Mele advanced on a police line. Mele called for the crowd to “Push! Push! Push!” as officers on the lawn were surrounded. Warner then entered the Capitol through a smashed window. Upon hearing this, Martinez, Kinnison, and Mele ascended to the Upper West Terrace to join him. Mele recorded a video proclaiming, “Storm the Capitol!” as they climbed the stairs. The group then surged on the Capitol wearing tactical gear and carrying cans of bear spray.

Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. I find it concerning that individuals from the Inland Empire were involved in the Capitol breach. It raises questions about the extent of radicalization and political polarization in our society. I would be interested to hear the author’s thoughts on the factors that may have contributed to these individuals’ actions and what can be done to address the underlying issues that led to the breach.

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