Jan. 6 Rioter Who Pleaded Guilty to Participating in the Capitol Assault Dies of Suicide Ahead of Sentencing

Authorities shared images of Matt Perna inside the Capitol building during the insurrection.
Authorities shared images of Matt Perna inside the Capitol building during the insurrection.Obituary/FBI Handout

Meanwhile, Oath Keeper Joshua James has pleaded guilty to committing seditious conspiracy. The ten other Oath Keepers members who have been charged with seditious conspiracy, including leader Stewart Rhodes, have pleaded not guilty.

Capitol Rioter Matthew Perna, who pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, died by suicide last week as he awaited his sentencing, officials said. Perna, of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, was 37.

His family claimed Perna died of a “broken heart,” according to an obituary published in the Sharon Herald

“The constant delays in hearings, and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt's heart broke and his spirit died,” the obituary read. The obituary called the insurrection a “rally” and said Perna entered the capitol “to peacefully stand up for his beliefs.”

Perna had documented his participation in the Jan. 6 riot, taking videos of himself and the crowd inside the Capitol building chanting “USA! USA!” while wearing a red sweatshirt with the words “Make America Great Again” written across it, according to a statement of offense he signed as true and accurate as a part of his guilty plea.

After the assault on the Capitol, Perna also uploaded an 8-minute video to Facebook in which he said, “It’s not over, trust me. The purpose of today was to expose Pence as a traitor,” the document read.

Perna in December pleaded guilty to all four charges he faced, including obstruction of an official proceeding. He had been awaiting a sentencing date of April 1. 

Meanwhile Oath Keepers member Joshua James pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy earlier this week. James was a leader of Alabama chapter of the Oath Keepers and was the only one of his far-right militia group to reach a plea deal in the more serious charges of sedition, CNN reported.

He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, and faces up to nine years in prison and up to $300,000 in fines, according to CNN

As a part of the agreement, James admitted to meeting with leader Stewart Rhodes and others in November 2020 to plan the storming of the Capitol with the goal of stopping the peaceful presidential transition.

He also said he was instructed by Rhodes to use “any means necessary,” including “lethal force,” to stop Joe Biden from becoming president. He had also purchased thousands of dollars worth of guns, ammunition and tactical gear, officials said. 

James has agreed to cooperate with officials as a part of his plea deal and remains free while he awaiting sentencing. 

Ten others, including Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy related to the Capitol riots in January. They have all pleaded not guilty and will stand trial in July.

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