The Department of Justice is seeking a 30-day prison sentence for a Marine Corps veteran charged with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after he allegedly attempted to force open one of the doors leading into the heart of the building.
On Jan. 6, Darrell Youngers, 32, scaled a wall to reach the Capitol, where he filmed confrontations between law enforcement and rioters before entering the building, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by the Justice Department on Sunday.
"We are inside the Capitol Building," Youngers said after picking up a piece of broken glass as a souvenir. "It has been overrun. … The Capitol Building has literally been broken into. … This is what a revolution motherf---ing looks like."
"By the people," he added.
Court filings said that Youngers followed co-defendant George Amos Tenney III, 35, a South Carolina man with no known military connection, into the Capitol Rotunda around 2:24 p.m. -- a turning point for the siege when House members ceased their floor debate on the certification of President Joe Biden's election win and reached for gas masks.
Youngers served in the Marines from 2008 to 2012, deploying once to Afghanistan, according to court filings. He was honorably discharged as a corporal.
Prosecutors focused on Youngers' military service in court, saying, "As Youngers, a former Marine trained in providing security, should have known, he did not deescalate the situation by joining and chanting with the mob."
Youngers pleaded guilty in March to one count of unlawful "parading, demonstrating, or picketing" at the Capitol. The Justice Department dropped three other charges against him, including disorderly conduct, in exchange for his cooperation with law enforcement.
Prosecutors are also seeking three years' probation, 60 hours of community service, and $500 in restitution from Youngers.
The George Washington University's Program on Extremism estimates that roughly 12% of the 845 total Jan. 6 defendants are connected to the military -- a glaring statistic for the Pentagon as the Capitol siege sparked renewed concern about extremist activity during and after military service.
Youngers' attorney, Alex Omar Rosa-Ambert, declined to comment, citing his office's policy not to discuss pending cases outside of court.
Justice Department lawyers said that Tenney, with Youngers looking on, was the first rioter to open the rotunda doors, physically confronting law enforcement and allowing the mob deeper into the Capitol and potentially closer to lawmakers.
Tenney also pleaded guilty and faces a minimum of five years in prison. He will be sentenced in October 2022, according to the Justice Department.
The government credited Youngers with helping one law enforcement officer during scuffles with rioters and also steering his co-defendant away from confrontation. But "before Youngers did these things … he tried to open another one of the Rotunda Doors to rioters," prosecutors said. "Had he succeeded, he could have facilitated the entry of a significant number of people."
After the confrontation near the rotunda, Tenney and Youngers retreated from the Capitol via a window. That evening, clad in masks and face coverings, Youngers, Tenney and another alleged rioter named William Robert Norwood III filmed a video in their hotel room "regarding their conduct that day," according to court documents.
Youngers also took to Facebook to deny any violence at the Capitol, saying that there were some "small skirmishes … little fights between the protestors and the security" but "no shootouts."
In his post-plea interview with the DOJ, Youngers said he was worried about being arrested and went "down a rabbit hole" looking for theories to absolve himself of wrongdoing at the Capitol, to include suggesting that pro-Trump protesters were being framed by "Antifa" -- a loose collection of left-wing activists known to disrupt conservative and white nationalist rallies.
Youngers said that he had approached the Capitol out of "curiosity" and to see the siege firsthand. He also said that he was concerned people might be injured and he might be able to provide medical aid because of his training as a Marine.
-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.