WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – A defendant from the Piedmont Triad who prosecutors say was one of the first to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is asking the court for leniency in sentencing him in part because he was misled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

Matthew Mark Wood of Reidsville in a new filing has asked the court for probation, house arrest and other penalties that do not involve jail time for his actions during the deadly insurrection at the Capitol when Trump’s supporters tried to overturn the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Matthew Wood (noted in rear) and other rioters engaged in a standoff with officers just outside the Senate Chamber in an area known as the Ohio Clock Corridor. This is included in the DOJ’s court filing. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Wood had pleaded guilty on May 27 to charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in the Capitol building. He is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. on Nov. 18.

In their presentencing memo filed with Judge Amit P. Mehta in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, prosecutors asked to court to sentence Wood to 57 months of incarceration, which they call the middle point the discretionary range of 51 to 63 months, 3 years of supervised release, $2,000 in restitution and a mandatory special assessment of $225 for the six counts of conviction. The memo cites “the gravity of Wood’s conduct.”

But, a memo filed on Wood’s behalf by attorney Kira Anne West says he objects to some of the descriptions of his actions – he says he wasn’t planning to storm the Capitol but acted spontaneously and is otherwise a good citizen – and asks Mehta to sentence him to home confinement, 2 years of probation, 60 hours of community service and $500 in restitution.

The new court filings include a letter Wood wrote directly to Mehta in which he describes how he was misled and writes that he is “disgusted that I am part of that ‘infamous and terrible day.’

He says he is “sincerely and terribly sorry for what I have done and the disgrace that I have brought.” He asks for leniency, says he feels deeply sorry for those who died and ultimately says “I can beg for this court’s mercy, I can cry out for forgiveness.”

And in her memo, West writes that even though Wood pleaded guilty that in her “entire legal career has seen the government go after a criminal defendant with such gusto and seething animosity.”

“Matt had no idea he was being used as a pawn in a game far more sophisticated and complex than anyone could imagine,” she wrote. “This 23-year-old, small town, North Carolina boy with a sincere belief in President Trump was a perfect pawn for the agitators in the crowd.”

Hundreds prosecuted

Wood was arrested on March 5, 2021, after he voluntarily surrendered to the FBI and admitted he entered the Capitol through broken windows. He was indicted on March 17, 2021, and pleaded not guilty to six charges at his arraignment six days later.

Wood is one of six residents of the Piedmont Triad and 24 from North Carolina who are among nearly 900 people in 48 states who have been charged with crimes during the insurrection, based on a database maintained by USA TODAY. More than 400 have pleaded guilty, about 280 of them sentenced.

There were hundreds of injuries to law enforcement officers, much destruction of propertythreats on the life of Vice President Mike Pence and others and, ultimately, seven lives were lost during or after the insurrection. There also have been all those legal proceedings.

A House Select Committee continues to investigate the cause of the uprising and the actions by Trump and his allies in that event. Trump has been subpoenaed to testify and the Department of Justice is investigating.

One of the first inside

A screenshot from a publicly available video included in court filings shows Matthew Wood entering the House Speaker’s conference room and taking a drink of water from a glass that was sitting on the table. (DOJ)

In their court filing, prosecutors describe in 70 pages of extreme detail how Wood, incensed by how President Joe Biden had won the election, had traveled with his grandmother and his friend from North Carolina and arrived in Washington on Jan. 6. They write that he saw people “flocking to the Capitol” and decided to join them. His grandmother and friend did not go to the Capitol.

They describe how Wood saw this as more than an issue about Trump’s election but had said was “America that’s at stake,” as he had written on social media.

Prosecutors say Wood was among the first rioters – the 10th to be exact – to enter the Capitol and was among the last to leave and that he implored other rioters to enter the building.

The memo describes that while inside Wood roamed the corridors, including the area outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, where he paused to take a drink from a glass of water he found on the conference table.

Prosecutors detail that Wood tried to get into House chambers and was close enough to know that the Capitol police “drew their firearms” and ultimately was “hit with a tear gas bomb,” as he told them.

They say he was inside for approximately 80 minutes, from 2:13 p.m. to 3:33 p.m. They said in days after the insurrection that Wood praised the efforts at the Capitol before ultimately deleting his Facebook account. He then took a trip to Disney World before he surrendered.

Trump caused this

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo with the White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo with the White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

But in her memo on Wood’s behalf, West in 43 pages describes how “false claims were made on media sources, as well as by the President himself, that the election system had been corrupted and that the integrity of the election should be questioned.”

She wrote that “amazingly, Trump’s willingness to undermine confidence in the democratic process infected millions of his supporters and they were convinced that the loser was actually the winner.”

She said that the public now understands how former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other officials “strategized about a plan to direct thousands of angry marchers to the Capitol Building,” that the ‘stop the steal’ rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol was not accidental but a well-planned scheme urging the crowd to violence.”

The memo quotes Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating January 6, as saying how “President Trump invested millions of dollars of campaign funds purposely spreading false information, running ads he knew were false, and convincing millions of Americans that the election was corrupt and that he was the true President.”

Her memo also includes a testimonial letter from Wood’s employer, its name obfuscated, that attests to his character and that a prison sentence would force his termination.

Defending recommendation

In defending their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors cited previous and similar cases and sentences and argue that fairness should be a factor.

“Because of Wood’s highly aggravating conduct before, during, and after the riot, and the absence of any mitigating circumstances other than, perhaps, his youth, a sentence in the middle of the applicable Guidelines range would be sufficient but no greater than necessary to satisfy the requirements,” the memo says.

North Carolina’s defendants

Another defendant from the Triad, former High Point Police officer Laura Steele, who is a member of the Oath Keepers right-wing militia group, in October asked for more lenient treatment in the terms of her release while awaiting trial.

The Jan. 6 cases from North Carolina

Stephen Maury Baker

FROM: Garner

ARRESTED: Feb. 1, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty to two charges).

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on May 10, 2022, to:

  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCE: 24 months of probation after 9 days of intermittent confinement (3 consecutive weekends) and $500 restitution.

Matthew Jason Beddingfield

FROM: Smithfield

ARRESTED: Feb. 8, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Civil disorder
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Impeding passage through Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Feb. 8

Bradley Stuart Bennett

FROM: Charlotte

ARRESTED: April 12, 2021. INDICTED: April 21, 2021. ARRAIGNED: Pleaded not guilty. ARRAIGNED: April 29, 2021 (pleaded not guilty). REINDICTED ON TRUE BILL: Jan. 1, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building
  • Obstruction of justice/official proceeding

STATUS: There was a status hearing on Friday, but its unclear what the next steps will be.

Aiden Bilyard

FROM: Raleigh

ARRESTED: Nov. 22, 2001

CHARGES: Charged on eight counts related to being in the Capitol and wielding a dangerous weapon, including:

  • Civil disorder
  • Obstruction of justice/official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Pleaded guilty on Oct. 20 to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon. Awaits sentencing.

Lewis Easton Cantwell

FROM: Asheville

INDICTED: Feb. 5, 2021. ARRESTED: Feb. 18, 2021.

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on March 24, 2022, to Count 1 of six original charges:

  • Obstructing, impeding or interfering with law enforcement during commission of civil disorder and aiding and abetting.

SENTENCING: He faces 6 months in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $2,500. The file has not been updated since that plea was entered.

Charles Donohoe

FROM: Kernersville

ARRESTED: March 17, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 6, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 7, 2022.

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on April 8, 2022, to two of six original charges:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers

STATUS: Donohoe was state president of Proud Boys and was affiliated with five members charged with seditious conspiracy. No sentencing date is set. He faces up to 8 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The judge has said jail time is likely.

Edward George Jr.

FROM: Fayetteville

ARRESTED: July 24, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Superseding indictment of 9 charges in July 2021

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building
  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers
  • Theft of government property, aiding and abetting

STATUS: Status conference set for Oct. 1 but no update in file since August 2021.

Joseph David Gietzen

FROM: Sanford

INDICTED: April 1, 2022. ARRESTED: May 11, 2022.

CHARGES: He is shown in the court filings as struggling with police outside the Capitol. In one video, the filing says, “an officer winds up surrounded by members of the crowd and GIETZEN appears to grab the officer by the throat or face mask.” He later is seen holding a long pole and seen to “hit the officer next to him with the pole, striking him in the shoulder between his protective gear.” He also is identified, the report says, as being in the front of the throng and extending the poll as they attempt to get past law enforcement officers.

  • Civil disorder aiding and abetting
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, 2 counts
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, using a dangerous weapon
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds
  • Acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings

STATUS: No update since May 11.

Tate James Grant

FROM: Cary

ARRESTED: Oct. 14, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Dec. 15, 2021

CHARGES: The charging document says that video images show Grant inside the Senate offices.

  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol building
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Dec. 20, 2021.

Johnny Harris

FROM: Shelby

ARRESTED: March 18, 2021. ARRAIGNED: May 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty).

CHARGES:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
  • Knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions
  • Engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol buildings or grounds
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Remains on personal recognizance. No update since a status hearing on Oct. 14, 2021.

Ethan Stephen Horn

FROM: Raleigh

ARRESTED: April 9, 2021. CHARGED: April 13, 2021. ARRAIGNED: April 27, 2021 (pleaded not guilty)

CHARGES:

  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: Remains on personal recognizance. A hearing was scheduled for Oct.14, but there has been no update since September 2021.

James Little

FROM: Claremont

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty to Count 4 of five original charges: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: March 21, 2022, to 60 days in jail to be followed by 36 months of probation and $500 restitution.

Phillip James Mault

FROM: Fort Bragg

CHARGES:

SENTENCED: July 15 to 44 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release and $2,000 restitution.

Benjamin Robinson

FROM: Matthews

ARRESTED: May 20, 2022

CHARGES: Investigators say they identified a man named Linwood Robinson by matching video to a prior arrest photo and his cell phone records. Benjamin Robinson is one of Linwood Robinson’s two sons (with Linwood Alan Robinson II, a daughter-in-law (Brittany Nicole Robinson) and an unnamed grandchild who were observed inside the Capitol building. The report says they were unlawfully on the grounds and engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct. It’s unclear why the complaint lists only one family member.

  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since the arrest.

Anthony Joseph Scirica

FROM: Winston-Salem

ARRESTED: June 16, 2021. CHARGED: July 8, 2021

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty to one of four original charges: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: Jan. 20, 2022, to 15 days of incarceration, $500 fine and $500 restitution.

Grayson Sherrill

FROM: Cherryville

ARRESTED: March 1, 2001. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Dec. 16, 2021

CHARGES:

  • Civil disorder
  • Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, using a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, with deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Act of physical violence in Capitol grounds or buildings
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: His charges were separated from original indictment that included Elliot Bishal and Elisa Irizarry. No update since Jan. 3, 2022

Christopher Raphael (Chris) Spencer (indicted with Virginia Marie Spencer)

FROM: Winston-Salem

ARRESTED: Jan. 19, 2021. CHARGED: Jan. 23, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 10, 2021. ARRAIGNMENT: Pleaded not guilty to all counts on March 31, 2021.

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly conduct in Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Aug. 4, 2021, following status conference

Virginia Marie (Jenny) Spencer

Virginia Maria “Jenny” Spencer of Pilot Mountain (DOJ)

FROM: Durham

ARRESTED: Feb. 8, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: March 10, 2021. ARRAIGNMENT: Pleaded not guilty to all counts on March 31, 2021.

CHARGES:

  • Pleaded guilty Sept. 9, 2021, to one of five original counts: Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building

SENTENCED: Jan. 19, 2022, to 90 days incarceration, $500 restitution

Laura Steele

FROM: Thomasville

ARRESTED: Feb. 17, 2021. CHARGED: March 12, 2021. EIGHTH SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: June 22, 2022

CHARGES: She is one of eight defendants from the Oath Keepers and is named in seven of nine charges.

  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties
  • Destruction of government property and aiding and abetting
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Civil disorder and aiding and abetting
  • Tampering with documents and proceedings and aiding and abetting (she’s the only one of several charged with this). Burned and destroyed evidence in involvement in the attack

STATUS: Trial date has not been set, was delayed from October.

Tata Aileen Stottlemyer

FROM: Conover

AKA: Tara Aileen Shalvey, charged with Dale Jeremiah “DJ” Shalvey

ARRESTED: Sept. 14, 2021. SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT: Feb. 2, 2022

CHARGES:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Entering and remaining on the floor of Congress
  • Disorderly conduct in Capitol building

STATUS: No update since Feb. 16.

Mark Matthew Wood

FROM:  Reidsville

ARRESTED: March 5, 2021. INDICTED: MARCH 17, 2021. ARRAIGNED: March 23, 2021 (pleaded not guilty to six counts)

CHARGES: Pleaded guilty on May 27, 2022, to:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in Capitol building

SENTENCING: Nov. 18, 2 p.m.