A federal judge in New Mexico ruled that defendant Matthew Martin was ‘not guilty’ of all charges filed against him due to his involvement with the January 6th riot.
As Buzzfeed reports:
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday found that a New Mexico man “reasonably believed” that police officers let him into the US Capitol during the Jan. 6 breach, finding defendant Matthew Martin not guilty of all charges.
Announcing his decision from the bench, US District Judge Trevor McFadden said that although prosecutors argued there were numerous instances when Martin would have been aware that he wasn’t allowed on Capitol grounds or inside the building — as he walked past fences with signs saying “AREA CLOSED” and recorded video of a broken window, blaring alarms, police in riot gear, and people who appeared to have encountered tear gas — those were outweighed by Martin’s “plausible” belief that he had permission because officers didn’t try to stop him from entering.
McFadden said that Martin’s conduct was as “minimal and non-serious” as the judge could imagine for someone who went into the Capitol on Jan. 6. He said that Martin seemed to be a “silent observer” of the scene and didn’t try to crowd the police, protest, or wave the “Trump” flag that he was carrying. Martin appeared “quiet” and “orderly” as he walked inside the building, filmed video inside the Rotunda similar to how the media would behave, and didn’t appear to interfere with officers as he filmed a clash with rioters later in the afternoon on a north terrace of the building.
The verdict represented an early test of efforts by some Jan. 6 defendants to argue that police allowed them to enter the Capitol, or that they believed they had permission because no officer told them to stop. It’s the third trial related to Jan. 6 to finish since the insurrection. Other judges presiding over Jan. 6 cases aren’t bound by McFadden’s findings, but other defendants could now point to his analysis of what it would take to find a nonviolent participant in the breach of the Capitol guilty of federal crimes.
Hundreds of defendants are currently awaiting trial on similar charges due to their own involvement with the events of January 6th.