When Taylor County Republican Party Chairwoman Mandy Robinson-Hand emerged from the U.S. Capitol amid the noise and smoke of the Jan. 6 riot, she began texting friends and family that she and her husband, Charles Hand III, were “rebels.”
“Dude im (sic) in a war,” she wrote, according to court records.
But in speaking before U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg Friday in Washington, D.C., Robinson-Hand wiped tears from her eyes and said she regrets participating in the protests and the Capitol breach two years ago.
“I’m sorry about that day, I see the consequences,” she said.
The 47-year-old Robinson-Hand and her husband were each sentenced to 20 days in jail and six months of probation after agreeing last fall to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating in the Capitol. They each will also have to pay $500 in restitution.
Attorneys for the couple asked for no jail time for their clients, but the judge in the case said their actions warranted some time in lock-up. He found Robinson-Hand’s text messages problematic, but was equally as concerned that Charles Hand, 36, broke off a piece of fencing outside the Capitol before entering, possibly to use as a weapon.
“You were both eager and willing participants in the crowd,” Boasberg said. “Again, you just said you see what that did to our country and our country’s reputation in the world. What just happened in Brazil; you see people think, ‘Oh, that’s what you’re supposed to do. When you disagree with the government, you should just storm the buildings where power resides.’”
The Hands, who were arrested in March of last year, live in Butler, a small city 50 miles southwest of Macon where Robinson-Hand is active in local politics. Even after her arrest, she was listed as a county captain in Herschel Walker’s 2022 failed bid for Senate.
The Hands declined to be interviewed after Friday’s sentencing hearing.
During Friday’s hearing, they showed footage Robinson-Hand shot on her cell phone as she panned the crowd while smoke filled the air. “Hang them high,” the crowd chanted.
In a text to her children, Robinson-Hand wrote, “Be proud of your parents.”
Charles Hand wrote a post on Facebook after he returned home from the riot, saying he had witnessed “thousands of angry Americans marching into the Capitol to protest and stop the certification of what I personally believe to be an election stolen from the American people.”
In the presentencing report, prosecutors said after the couple was arrested, they admitted to FBI agents that they knew they did not have permission to be in the Capitol, but Robinson-Hand still thought it was “a wild experience.”
“It was pretty cool,” she said.
“To date, Robinson-Hand has expressed no remorse for her criminal conduct, only regret that she was arrested for it,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing recommendation. As for Charles Hand, prosecutors wrote his “remorse comes too late.”
In a filing before sentencing, Charles Hand’s attorney said the couple had “no plans at all” to come to Washington until his then-employer, who is unnamed in court papers, offered to pay the couple’s expenses to attend former President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.
Robinson-Hand’s attorney said she “entered the Capitol to make a point” and left soon after.
The couple has past problems with the law. In 2008, Robinson-Hand was convicted of felony possession with intent to distribute the opiate oxycodone and spent a year in jail. She spent the next nine years on probation. Charles Hand’s criminal history consists of a 2005 DUI and misdemeanor criminal trespassing.
The Hands are the 12th and 13th Georgians charged in the U.S. Capitol attack to be sentenced. Three others are awaiting sentencing and seven more are awaiting disposition of their charges.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC