Friedrich, a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, questioned assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Rozzoni at length over whether there was evidence that Nalley intended to make good on the online threats.
“It’s really hard for judges to determine whether these are just rants from defendants,” she said. “That they just like to stir people up on the internet.”
Rozzoni said the government had no evidence against Nalley “beyond statements” that he intended to return to Washington, but she pointed out he had already shown by his presence on Jan. 6 a willingness to travel to the city. And his social media posts showed an attitude of disregard for the seriousness of the attack, she said.
“He was minimizing what happened that day,” she said.
Nalley went to Washington with his friend, Americus attorney William McCall Calhoun Jr. The two men played in a band together and had attended an earlier “Stop the Steal” rally at the Georgia Capitol in December 2020.
Calhoun faces five federal charges including felony obstruction of an official proceeding, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.
“He did not plan on going into the Capitol,” Hawker said. “He didn’t hesitate, but he went in, got caught up in it.”
Nalley said little during the sentencing, but told the judge he recognized his “huge mistake.”
“I just want to move on,” he said.
Friedrich was convinced.
“He was a bit slower to express his remorse than he should have been,” she said. “I do believe he now recognizes the seriousness of his conduct, and he is now on a different path.”
Also Thursday, Baker County resident and former Pelham police officer Shane Michael Daughtry pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the riot. Daughtry, 59, faces a prison sentence of up to six months, along with fines and probation, when he is sentenced in June.
Daughtry left the police force before the riot and was turned into the FBI by Pelham police officers who saw his social media posts on Jan. 6.
“We just tore down the fence and stormed the Capital (sic),” Daughtry wrote in one post. “They’re throwing flash bangs at us now ... pepper spray everywhere.”
In his plea hearing, Daughtry told U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss that he “never personally tore down any fencing or did any type of destruction myself,” but he admitted that facts behind the charge were correct.
There have been 19 defendants with Georgia ties charged in the Jan. 6 riot. So far, 10 have entered guilty pleas.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Verden Andrew Nalley’s attorney. The story has been updated with the correct information.