West Virginia college student sentenced to jail for role in Capitol insurrection

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A college student who posted online that “Infamy is just as good as fame” after she climbed through a broken window at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has been sentenced to a month behind bars for her actions.

Gracyn Courtright, 23, of Hurricane, West Virginia, sobbed as she told U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper that “if I could take back anything in my life it would be my actions on Jan. 6.”

She was among the throng of pro-Trump rioters who descended on the Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory last year. She posted photos of herself online — like scores of other rioters — reveling in the moment. “Can’t wait to tell my grandkids I was here!” she wrote, and inside the Senate chamber, she was photographed holding a “Members only” sign.

“I will never be the same girl again,” the University of Kentucky student said through tears. “This has changed me completely.”

After the riot, she dug in on social media when she was criticized for her actions, before eventually deleting her accounts. Courtright is among the youngest of those publicly charged in the Capitol riot so far, out of more than 700 criminal cases.

Courtright asked the judge that she be allowed to finish her final semester of college, but said that the internet images of her that day, even though her accounts are deleted, will haunt her forever. People won’t see the hardworking student who was on the dean’s list, she said.

“They will only see the girl who trespassed and took pictures to prove they were there. And posted pictures thinking she was just so cool,” Courtright said.

Courtright’s sentencing was delayed briefly because a nurse had to determine she was OK to proceed, and she gave her statement sitting down.

Her attorney on Friday argued she had no idea what she was doing and that she wasn’t a political activist — she didn’t even vote in the election she was there to protest. The judge seized on that during his remarks.

“That is your choice obviously, but in my view — if any citizen wants to participate in our democracy, casting a vote is the price of admission,” he said. “Because when you do that, you have to study the issues and the candidates, learn what their policies are, figure out how those policies are affecting your community.”

Participating in a democracy isn’t like going to a University of Kentucky game and “rooting for a team just because of the color of their jerseys,” the judge said. “It’s certainly not resorting to violence when your team doesn’t win the game,” he told Courtright.

Cooper also noted that Courtright made it to the floor of the U.S. Senate at about the exact time that Ashli Babbitt, on the House, side was shot dead.

“Do you know how many people died on Jan. 6, 5. Including Ms. Babbitt?” he asked. “Five.”

“Do you know how many Capitol police officers committed suicide after Jan. 6, harmed from the trauma of that day? Four,“ the judge added. “So was it cool to have been there?”

“No,” she answered emphatically.

Still, the judge said the recommended six months in prison was too high and sentenced her instead to 30 days, one year of supervised release, and 60 hours of community service.

He said he hoped she could pull her life together and that she “should not be judged by the worst mistake you have made in your life.”

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