A North Carolina mother who brought her 14-year-old son into the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack was sentenced Friday to three months in prison.
Virginia Spencer, a mother of five, also was given three years probation and ordered to pay $500 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly during a hearing held remotely.
The sentence was what the Department of Justice had recommended.
Kollar-Kotelly credited Spencer with not being violent during her family’s 30-minute stay inside the Capitol, The News & Observer reported. The judge, however, said Spencer’s mere presence gave support to hundreds of protesters.
Kollar-Kotelly also questioned Spencer’s parenting decision to bring her son amongst the demonstraters. The judge called it "a complete lack of judgment on your part."
"This must have been a traumatic experience to witness," Kollar-Kotelly said, according to The News & Observer. "I sincerely hope he is alright."
Spencer's husband, Christopher Raphael Spencer, also was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty to Jan. 6-related charges.
The Spencers moved toward the Capitol building with their son in tow on Jan. 6, 2021, despite seeing police shooting tear gas on the crowd, a federal prosecutor wrote in a court filing.
Inside the Capitol, Christopher Spencer filmed a Facebook Live video as he and his wife briefly entered Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office suite, prosecutors said.
Virginia Spencer, 38, later joined a group of protesters who were chanting "Stop the steal!" and "Break it down!" outside the House Chamber door, although prosecutors say she wasn't vocal or at the front of that crowd.
Virginia Spencer pleaded guilty in September to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment.
Friday's hearing was held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants could hear someone sobbing as the hearing ended.
Virginia Spencer, a restaurant cashier from Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, must report to prison to begin serving sentence by Feb. 25.
Her defense attorney, Allen Orenberg, had asked for a sentence of one year of probation with community service.
More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol attack. More than 170 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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