Jake Angeli, the Phoenix man who joined the riot of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with his face painted and his head topped with a fur hat with horns was sentenced on Wednesday to 41 months in prison.
Given the 11 months he has already served since his January arrest, Angeli will serve about 2½ more years in a federal prison. The judge said he expected it would be a minimum security unit.
Before the judge passed sentence, Angeli addressed the court for about 30 minutes and accepted responsibility for his crime. But said he was not a danger to society.
“I may be guilty of this crime, absolutely,” he said. “But I am in no way, shape or form a dangerous criminal. I’m not a domestic terrorist. I’m not an insurrectionist.
“I’m a good man who broke the law,” he said.
Angeli said that he was, in a way, grateful, for his confinement, giving him the time to evaluate his actions. “You really dig when you’re locked up 22 hours a day,” he said.
Angeli said he asked himself how Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi would act and decided that Jesus would respect and understand his captors and that Gandhi would accept responsibility.
“The hardest part of all of this is, I know I am to blame,” Angeli told the court. “Most people will never have any idea to know what it’s like to look in the mirror and say, you know, you really messed up.”
Judge Royce Lamberth told Angeli that he thought he had genuine remorse, but could not justify deviating down from the sentencing guidelines for the felony crime.
“Although you have evolved in your thinking, clearly, and reverted your thinking in many ways,” the judge said to Angeli, “what you did here was horrific.”
Angeli, 34, was not accused of any violence nor property damage during his time in the U.S. Capitol. But, prosecutors said, Angeli played a key role by goading on the crowd through shouts blasted from his megaphone.
Angeli also took the dais of the U.S. Senate, which had been hurriedly cleared moments earlier, and left a note for then-Vice President Mike Pence that warned him: “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!”
Speaking to Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall said that note was particularly chilling because Angeli was not writing that from his Phoenix home, but while in D.C. while Pence was close by.
Paschall said Angeli’s actions have been described by himself and others as peaceful. But she showed videos to the court that showed Angeli entering the building and shouting an obscenity in the Senate chamber.
“That is not peaceful. That is chaos,” she said. “That is not peaceful. That is criminal obstruction.”
Angeli, who was charged under his legal name, Jacob Chansley, had pleaded guilty to a single felony count of obstructing a civil proceeding
The government had asked that Angeli be sentenced to 51 months. Angeli’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, asked that his client be freed, arguing that the 11 months he has already spent in solitary confinement was punishment enough.
In court on Wednesday, Watkins said the sentencing provided a unique opportunity for the judge to both “mete out justice” and to “bridge this great divide” in the country’s political climate.
Watkins has argued that Angeli thought he was acting at the behest of then-President Donald Trump who had requested his supporters show up to D.C. on Jan. 6, the day a joint session of Congress would certify that President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 general election.
“He was not an organizer,” Watkins wrote of Angeli. “He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief.”
Watkins has also, in interviews and in court briefs, discussed the mental deficiencies of his client. He has described Angeli’s life as being filled with abuse and neglect. In his filing to the court ahead of Angeli’s sentencing, Watkins said Angeli found the supportive community he had long craved among followers of Trump.
Watkins said that Angeli’s mental health has deteriorated in custody, where he has been kept in isolation due to restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks, and a constant feeling of claustrophobia while he is locked alone in his cell each day,” Watkins wrote.
Angeli had become a fixture at protests and marches throughout the Phoenix area since at least 2019.
He originally painted his face black and white, but switched to red, white and blue during the 2020 election year.
Angeli would parade around shirtless, showing off a chest decorated with elaborate tattoos, each he said a symbol of his shamanistic beliefs.
He donned a fur helmet with tails that draped his face and was topped with horns. “You mess with the bull, you get the horns,” Angeli would say when asked about the hat.
Angeli also carried a six-foot spear that had a real tip. Though, his attorney said in court filings, that it was not secured property and would fall off if tilted too far.
In interviews with the Republic, Angeli said he intentionally picked his outfit as a way to draw attention to himself and the message he would shout in a booming voice that resonated even without amplification.
At times, he didn’t need the excuse of a protest or march to get into his outfit.
Angeli would at times, literally when he felt the spirit moved him, stand outside the Arizona State Capitol or the building that housed The Arizona Republic newspaper, and unleash a steady stream of impromptu thoughts. His booming, guttural voice allowed his message to penetrate walls and windows.
Angeli talked, or more accurately shouted, about corruption endemic in government and how it would soon be exposed.
He carried a sign that said “Q Sent Me,” showing his fealty to the QAnon movement.
That false conspiracy theory believes that a person with Q-level top-secret military clearance was, through cryptic postings on obscure bulletin boards, sharing information about the looming end of global leaders. Followers, who debated and parsed meanings from Q’s posts, expected mass arrests of political figures and celebrities as Trump would break up a massive global child sex trafficking ring.
Angeli had, at the ready, a well-rehearsed answer should someone ask who Q was.
“Q is the highest level in the military and the intelligence community,” he would say in a rapid-fire response.
Q was “disseminating above top secret information to patriots in the republic like myself and the people in the Q movement to take back our country from evil globalists and communists,” he would say, not pausing for breath, “who are attempting to monopolize all of the resources and all the labor in our country and all over the world so they can create a new world order, one world government.”
Angeli said he had long ago discovered what the so-called globalists were up to while doing his own research. He said that the Q movement verified much of what he already knew.
Angeli, who had served in the U.S. Navy, said he made the self-realization that he was part of a top-secret cadre of super soldiers. That revelation, he said, made the twists and turns he had gone through in life make sense to him, finally granting him a cohesive narrative.
In court filings, his attorney said that a military mental health examination found Angeli suffered from a personality disorder, but deemed he was fit to serve. And, his attorney wrote, the Navy did not tell Angeli he had the disorder, which his attorney named as schizotypal personality disorder.
Watkins, in court Wednesday, said that since learning of his diagnosis, Angeli had become a “new man.” Watkins said that was because Angeli “had an answer to a question he had been consumed with for all of his knowing life.”
Angeli self studied as a shaman, giving himself the name Yellowstone Wolf. He offered lessons for $55.55 in topics such as spiritual self defense through his virtual Starseed Academy. It provided what he said was his only, if spotty, income.
Angeli drove to Washington D.C. with others from Phoenix. He has not said whom he travelled with, but his attorney said that Angeli had been cooperating with authorities investigating the U.S. Capitol raid.
He was one of the first people into the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said, entering through a door that had security camera footage showed had been busted open from the inside by rioters who had entered the building through smashed windows.
Prosecutors said that based on an analysis of video footage that Angeli was in the Capitol building for about an hour.
His final stop was the U.S. Senate chamber. As he left, prosecutors said, he shouted one final word: “Freedom.”
Angeli gave an interview to NBC News the next day, while travelling back to Arizona, and downplayed his actions. “I walked through an open door, dude,” he said. Although he said he did feel a sense of accomplishment for making members of Congress run for cover.
Angeli’s image was one of the first distributed by authorities hoping to identify him, with his costume earning him a nickname in the national media: the QAnon shaman. Aware he was being sought, Angeli contacted the FBI and arranged to go to the Phoenix office upon his return for what he thought would be a follow-up interview.
He was arrested when he showed up and had been held in custody since.
Agents searching his car found the fur hat with horns and spear inside.
Angeli had planned, after the meeting with the FBI, to drive to the Arizona State Capitol and start another one of his signature protests.