A United States federal judge on April 6 acquitted a federal defense contractor of all charges stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, a 2017 Donald Trump appointee, found Matthew Martin of Santa Fe, New Mexico not guilty of four misdemeanor counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct in a two-day bench trial.
Martin becomes the first Capitol riot defendant to be fully acquitted at trial.
Martin, who waived his right to a jury trial and testified in his own defense, argued that he did not know he was illegally trespassing as he had never visited the U.S. Capitol before.
Martin also claimed that he did not see everything that was happening around him during the riot, although he filmed footage showing broken windows, blaring alarms, and crowds shouting when he entered the Capitol.
McFadden ruled that although prosecutors showed that Martin “more likely than not knew he was not supposed to go in” to the Capitol, they did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers had not allowed him to enter.
McFadden called the first count of entering and remaining in a restricted building a “close call.”
“But under our system of justice, close calls go to the defendant,” McFadden said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Romano called Martin’s claims of innocence “ludicrous.”
According to prosecutors, Martin’s supervisor texted him, “You can’t overrun the Capitol building,” to which Martin replied, “Actually you can, rather easily I might add. Not as much security as you think. Our numbers were freaking huge. They were not prepared.”
McFadden thought that Martin was “largely credible” but believed that the defendant had “shaded his testimony on some points, minimizing his actions.”
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