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Knoxville man who entered the Capitol on January 6th sentenced to 60 days in prison

Prosecutors said Cliff Meteer spent 31 minutes inside the Capitol. For those 31 minutes, Judge Carl Nichols sentenced Meteer to 60 days of incarceration.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Judge Carl Nichols in the District of Columbia District Court sentenced Clifford James Meteer to 60 days in prison, 36 months probation and 60 hours of community service for entering the Capitol on January 6. 

Prosecutors brought four charges against Meteer for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. In an agreement with prosecutors, Meteer pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building.

In the sentencing memo, prosecutors argued Meteer should serve 75 days in prison followed by three years probation, based largely on his "lack of remorse" and prior criminal history. 

Meteer gave multiple media interviews, including one with 10News. Prosecutors cited that interview to say Meteer "obviously does not regret his conduct." 

Meteer told 10News in August "I am not ashamed. I am proud of it." 

Prosecutors said Meteer justified the violence on January 6 in that interview, as well. 

"Perhaps there was a reason to be scared," Meteer said in August. "Perhaps the guilt of stealing the election." 

Prosecutors made clear they had no evidence Meteer personally engaged in violence or destruction in the Capitol, but they added the attack on the Capitol "was a criminal offense unparalleled in American history." 

Judge Nichols agreed Meteer didn't commit any violent acts and his conduct was "obviously not as severe" as others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. 

However, Judge Nichols said there was "no question" Meteer knew he shouldn't have entered the Capitol, and said Meteer did not express regret in his television interviews.

The judge said, unlike other defendants who were "quite remorseful," Meteer did not say he was wrong or he shouldn't have stormed the Capitol in news interviews.

When the FBI executed a search warrant on Meteer's house, they found ten weapons. Prosecutors said Meteer shouldn't have had those weapons because of a prior felony conviction. 

Judge Nichols asked prosecutors why they didn't charge Meteer with possessing those weapons. Prosecutors said they would defer to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Tennessee on whether to charge Meteer. 

However, Judge Nichols said Meteer possessing those weapons made him concerned about Meteer's respect for the rule of law. 

Judge Nichols said he considered Meteer a "moderate risk" of recidivism. 

The federal judge said the interviews, the weapons in Meteer's house, and deterring others from rioting similarly factored in to his sentence. 

Meteer's lawyer said Cliff Meteer went to Washington, D.C. not intending to commit any crimes. He "wore a tweed jacket and blue jeans," the lawyer said. 

Judge Carl Nichols was appointed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019. He said January 6 was not an ordinary riot. 

Judge Nichols said Americans have the right to protest the results of an election, but "one must do so lawfully." 

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