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4 Inland men sentenced to prison for roles in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Four Inland Empire residents who traveled together to Washington, D.C. to attend then-President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and later crossed police lines to ascend the West Terrace of the Capitol carrying bear spray were sentenced to federal prison on Friday, April 19.

Erik Scott Warner, 48, of Menifee, was sentenced to 2 years, 3 months; Felipe Antonio Martinez, 50, of Lake Elsinore, was sentenced to 1 year, 9 months; Derek Kinnison, 42, of Lake Elsinore, was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months; and Ronald Mele, 54, of Temecula, was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months.

Additionally, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered each to pay $2,000 restitution and complete 36 months of supervised release for their roles in disrupting Congress as it certified Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the 2020 presidential election. All four were taken into custody.

The men, who prosecutors say were linked to the Three Percenters militia movement, all were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding, both felonies, after a 17-day jury trial. Warner and Kinnison were also convicted of tampering with documents or records, a felony. And all four were found guilty of misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

Only Warner was accused of entering the Capitol building.

The Three Percenters is an anti-government, extremist movement; Members compare themselves to American patriots who opposed the British during the revolution.

Nicolai Cocis, the attorney for Kinnison, said in an interview Friday that the government had sought a sentence of 8 years and a $48,000 fine for his client.

“The judge recognized that not every individual that was at the Capitol on January the 6th is bad and that he sees some potential and that he determined that Kinnison has rehabilitated himself,” Cocis said. “The judge agreed with the defense that the sentence the government was asking for was a harsh sentence and inappropriate given their involvement.”

He added that all four men accepted responsibility for their actions and did not minimize their conduct.

“None of them were proud of their behavior,” Cocis said.

The men were charged in the same indictment as former La Habra Police Chief Alan Hostetter, who was sentenced in December 2023 to 11 years in prison. Hostetter used a bullhorn to cheer on the members of the crowd who were fighting to break through the police line at the Capitol. He was convicted of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding and unlawful entry on a restricted building or grounds.

On Jan. 6, the men went to the Ellipse for the rally and afterward headed toward the Capitol. As they approached the Capitol at approximately 2 p.m., federal officials said, Kinnison announced, “This is the storm of the Capitol.” Warner then joined protesters climbing the northwest stairs to the Upper West Terrace, where police had been defending moments earlier.

At the same time, Martinez, Kinnison, and Mele advanced on a police line. Mele called out for the crowd to “Push! Push! Push!” as the officers on the lawn were surrounded, a Department of Justice news release said.

Warner then entered the Capitol through a smashed window.  When Martinez, Kinnison, and Mele heard by phone that Warner had entered the Capitol, they ascended to the Upper West Terrace to join him, the indictment said.

As they climbed the stairs, Mele shot a selfie-style video, in which he proclaims, “Storm the Capitol!” the release said.

The others then surged on the Capitol wearing tactical gear and carrying cans of bear spray, the release said.

More than 1,387 people have been charged with crimes related to the Capitol breach, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Source: Orange County Register

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