Capitol riot's 'QAnon Shaman' appeals guilty plea and 41-month prison sentence

·2 min read
Brent Stirton

WASHINGTON — The Arizona man who wore face paint and horns during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot filed an appeal Tuesday of his guilty plea and sentence of 41 months in prison.

Lawyers for the man, Jacob Chansley, 34, better known as the “QAnon Shaman,” had indicated that they were exploring the possibility of an appeal.

The filing did not include details about the grounds Chansley will base his appeal on. The two new lawyers he recently hired have said he may have a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel against his former attorney, Albert Watkins. It is one the few options remaining after Chansley waived most of his appeal rights as a condition of his plea agreement.

John Pierce, an attorney for Chansley, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, Pierce and his co-counsel, William Shipley, will have to prove that Watkins failed to competently represent Chansley and that the failure directly affected the outcome of the case.

“Mr. Chansley is an extremely smart man, very intelligent, if not savant-like, and I sincerely wish him all the best in his life,” Watkins said Monday.

Chansley’s is the second Jan. 6 case to be appealed post-sentencing. The first appeal was filed last week by Scott Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner and ex-MMA fighter, who also was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Fairlamb, who also hired new lawyers after his sentencing, has yet to lay out the argument he will be making on appeal. He, too, signed a plea agreement that severely limits his options, leaving an argument of ineffective assistance of counsel likely in his case, as well.

Chansley will remain in prison while his appeal proceeds. He has been behind bars since he was arrested in January.

Chansley immediately drew attention on Jan. 6 by appearing shirtless with face paint, wearing a furry headdress with horns and carrying a U.S. flag and a bullhorn. He and other rioters reached the Senate floor and climbed the dais, where he left a note for Vice President Mike Pence that read: “It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!”

Chansley, who said he has a personality disorder and is on the autism spectrum, told the judge at his sentencing that he wanted to take accountability for his actions and that he was “wrong” for entering the Capitol.

“I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. The behavior is indefensible,” he said.

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