A Michigan man who was sentenced on Friday to more than four years in jail for using a stolen police baton to strike law enforcement officials during the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol was characterized by prosecutors as a self-professed militia leader.
Using a baton he stole from the police, Matthew Thomas Krol of Linden, Michigan, assaulted at least three officers, leaving one of them hurt. His assaults were caught on video. Mr. Krol was one of the worst instigators of violence during the event, according to a prosecutor.
In August, Mr. Krol entered a guilty plea to an assault charge.
Mr. Krol struck Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell with the pilfered police baton during the event, causing his right hand to swell and bleed.
Mr. Gonell was present when Mr. Krol apologized before the judge made his announcement.
He addressed the former officer, who had left the department a year earlier, “I hope one day you accept my apology, but I don’t expect you to accept it now.”
On January 6, Mr. Gonell implored the judge to make his attacker “accountable” for his deeds.
“He was a part of the mob that made sure I would lose my career, and that day changed the course of my life,” Mr. Gonell stated.
The 65-year-old received a sentence of four years and three months from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras. His incarceration since his arrest in February 2022 is included in the sentence. Six years and six months in prison was what the prosecution had asked for.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Krol, who called himself a “militia enthusiast,” is the self-declared executive officer of the Michigan Genesee County Volunteer Militia.
Investigations revealed that Mr. Krol was also connected to three paramilitary members of the Wolverine Watchmen, who were found guilty last year of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.
Federal authorities discovered that Mr. Krol had private conversations exchanged with the leaders of the group in Michigan, despite the fact that he is not charged with any involvement in the conspiracy. Among them was Adam Fox, who was found guilty by a federal jury of plotting to kidnap Ms. Whitmer together with another guy. Fox received a 16-year jail sentence.
“During one of their conversations, Mr. Kroll told Mr. Fox, ‘I would rather apprehend Tyrants at the Capital, hang them on those beautiful oak tress (than) kill citizens in a civil war.'” He declared that he was “willing to kill or die for Liberty” at another point.
Michael Cronkright, the defense lawyer, explained away his client’s remarks by saying they were only “hyperbolic and inflammatory statements that he now regrets,” stressing that their client had no prior knowledge of an abduction scheme and was not closely connected to the Wolverine Watchmen.
According to Mr. Cronkright, “the government uses the phrase that Mr. Krol was ‘an associate of members’ to allude to a greater connection than exists.”
The defendant had, according to the prosecution, “expressed his willingness to engage in mob violence to achieve his political objectives” before to participating in the Capitol demonstration on January 6.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Tessman stated in a court document that Krol “evoked the use of violence against politicians and open hostility toward (Whitmer) in Facebook messages, in addition to sharing pictures of himself carrying weaponry.”
During his final argument, Mr. Cronkright reminded the court that although his client’s attacks on the Capitol police lasted less than a minute, he had devoted decades of his life to missionary and disaster relief work in Haiti, India, Thailand, Guatemala, and other countries.
“That minute, or that hour, even though it shows Matthew Krol at his worst on January 6, 2021, doesn’t define him. Mr. Cronkright wrote, “Mr. Krol will not provide an explanation for that conduct.
Over 1,200 individuals have been accused of criminal offenses pertaining to January 6th, as fresh video evidence has surfaced, casting doubt on the official version of events.
After trials, about 900 defendants entered guilty pleas or were found guilty by a judge or jury. Approximately two-thirds of the more than 700 people who have been condemned have been given prison terms ranging from three days to 22 years.