A Pennsylvania woman who smashed a window at the Capitol with an ice ax and a cardboard tube and used a bullhorn to urge rioters to “take” the building on Jan 6., 2021, was sentenced on Tuesday to nearly five years in prison, court documents show.
Federal prosecutors said the woman, Rachel Powell, 43, of Sandy Lake, Pa., was “an active and enthusiastic participant” in the attack on the Capitol after she attended President Donald J. Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally earlier that day.
Ms. Powell said in a phone interview on Tuesday that she had told the court that she was “deeply ashamed” of her behavior on Jan. 6. She said politics had taken “a very dark turn” and that she had succumbed to that climate and that “it led to disaster.”
“I have failed everyone around me,” she said.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sentenced Ms. Powell to 57 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release and ordered her to pay more than $8,000 in restitution, fines and fees.
Prosecutors had recommended 96 months in prison. Ms. Powell’s lawyer, Nicholas D. Smith, had asked for no prison time, urging instead that she be sentenced to 36 months of probation, 24 months of home detention and 200 hours of community service.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Ms. Powell pushed against police barricades at the Capitol while shouting, “Come on up people, don’t be shy!” and then joined others who were pushing through the police, prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Ms. Powell also repeatedly struck a window at the Capitol with an ice ax and then used a large cardboard tube as a battering ram, breaking the glass, prosecutors wrote.
She later used a bullhorn to encourage others who were storming the Capitol, telling them they should “probably coordinate together if you’re going to take the building,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors wrote that Ms. Powell had an “obsession with keeping former President Trump in power” and had “conducted surveillance on local legislators in order to intimidate them into voting for” Mr. Trump before Jan. 6.
A day after the attack, according to prosecutors, she wrote on social media: “We have given you all a chance to help us settle this peacefully. We have been patient. The time is up.”
Over the next several days, prosecutors said, she continued to post about the riot, writing: “They didn’t open the gates. The people trampled them. It was war.”
Ms. Powell was arrested by the F.B.I. on Feb. 4, 2021.
She was later indicted and was tried this year on nine charges, including civil disorder, destruction of government property, and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. Judge Lamberth found her guilty on all counts.
A mother of eight and a grandmother of four, Ms. Powell said she must report to prison on Jan. 5.
“My sentence is long and heartbreaking,” she said. “I have children that are going to be motherless for a few years, and I just don’t know even what to say about that. It’s numbing.”
Mr. Smith, her lawyer, wrote in court documents that a neuropsychological evaluation had found that Ms. Powell’s “brutally harsh upbringing has led to disorders that leave her susceptible to manipulation — including of the sort that led her to the Capitol.”
More than 1,100 people have been charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot, according to the Justice Department. Last month, Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 22 years for the central role he played in organizing a gang of his pro-Trump followers to attack the Capitol.
Ms. Powell said in the interview that Mr. Trump had been a source of support for her and her family since the riot. She said one of her sons met the former president at his golf club in New Jersey and asked him to sign a hat for her, which he did, writing, “Rachel, We Love You.”
“It means the world to us that any politician cares about us right now,” Ms. Powell said. “It’s just huge because a lot of people think we’re villains and we’re terrible people, but we’re not. Those moments get us through.”