A college student who bragged about her participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol on social media and swiped a “Members Only” sign as she walked through the building pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor as part of a plea deal on Monday.
Gracyn Courtright, a woman from West Virginia who was a senior at the University of Kentucky in January, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count: unlawfully and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution and defense agreed that Courtright’s sentencing guidelines would be between zero and six months in prison. As part of the deal, the government will request that the four other counts Courtright faced will be dropped after her sentencing.
Courtright, who pleaded guilty in a court hearing conducted via videoconference, sounded emotional as she spoke to the judge on Monday morning and told the judge she was “shaking.”
Courtright was arrested on Jan. 19, the day before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration and the last full day of Donald Trump’s presidency. Courtright, in social media posts and messages revealed in her FBI affidavit, wrote that she couldn’t “wait to tell my grandkids I was here!,” that “Infamy is just as good as fame,” and that she didn’t see what the big deal was.
“I thought it was cool,” Courtright wrote in one message. “idk what treason is… i’m not embarrassed…”
The statement of offense notes that Courtright stepped over broken glass to get inside the Capitol and that she was surrounded by people trying to break into locked doors. It also notes that Courtright was seen “walking up the steps near the Senate Chambers carrying a ‘Members Only’ sign” and was soon “approached by a law enforcement officer who requested she give him the sign.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office Courtright carrying a “Members Only” sign during the Jan. 6 riot.
“The defendant knew at the time he/she entered the U.S. Capitol Building that that she did not have permission to enter the building and the defendant entered into and remained in a restricted building,” the statement of offense reads.
Judge Christopher R. Cooper set sentencing for Nov. 16. It is scheduled to take place in-person, but Courtright’s lawyer noted that the Courtright family has not received any COVID-19 vaccination and has no plans to do so. Courtright, asked by Judge Cooper whether her vaccination status would change between now and sentencing, said “probably not.”
Nearly 600 defendants have been arrested for their actions on Jan. 6. The FBI is working on hundreds of other cases. While federal authorities initially estimated that 800 people entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, online sleuths who call themselves sedition hunters have identified more than 1,700 people they say they spotted inside the building on Jan. 6, meaning the total universe of potential defendants who either unlawfully entered the Capitol or assaulted law enforcement officials outside is perhaps more than 2,000.
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