A Trump supporter and former QAnon adherent from South Carolina who joined a mob and attacked police at the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Wednesday to 44 months in prison by a federal judge.
Prosecutors had asked for a minimum of 51 months in prison for Nicholas Languerand, 26, of Little River, a coastal community just north of Myrtle Beach.
But at the end of an 85-minute hearing, Judge John Bates gave Languerand mercy, saying he was impressed by accounts of how alcohol, drugs and an "extremely difficult and chaotic childhood" had warped Languerand's judgment and caused him to have the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and attack police defending the Capitol that day. The judge also said he was moved by Languerand's show of remorse.
Just before passing sentence, Languerand told the judge, "I am a patriot, I do love this country, I am not a terrorist. ... I have no intention of never being involved in anything like this again."
But Bates also told Languerand, 26, who had after the riot called himself a "patriot" for attacking the police, was utterly wrong in claiming to be a patriot on that day.
"The patriots here were not those who were invading the capitol," the judge told Languerand. "The patriots were the police officers who were defending the capitol."
Bates told Languerand he had not only attacked police that day, he had assaulted the idea of America, a nation whose system of government rests on citizens accepting the results of lawful elections.
"This was an offense which strikes at the very heart of our democratic process and at the rule of law," Bates said. "They (rioters) sought to stop the peaceful transfer of power following the legitimate outcome of an election."
Languerand told the judge he had not intended to get involved in violence when he came to Washington, but decided to join the rioters who were involved in heavy fighting with police after watching the back-and-forth struggle at a doorway on the west side of the Capitol for two hours.
Once he decided to join the rioters, Languerand, a former U.S. Army service member who was discharged for drug use, "put himself among the front ranks of the rioters and threw a variety of dangerous objects at the police," according to a prosecution memo.
Objects Languerand threw included a heavy audio speaker, a weighty orange bollard and sticklike objects that when thrown "were capable of inflicting serious bodily injury," the prosecution memo said.
"Although the facts and the circumstances surrounding the actions of each rioter who breached the U.S. Capitol and its grounds differ, each rioter's actions were illegal and contributed, directly or indirectly, to the violence and destruction that day," the memo said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Juman urged the judge to give Languerand a stiff sentence. "The defendant was not caught up in the violence, he sought it out" and repeatedly attacked police, Juman said.
Languerand also acknowledged that at the time of the riot, he was a follower of QAnon, a collection of false conspiracy theories circulated on the internet by an anonymous person called "Q" that say this nation is controlled by a "deep state" of bureaucrats and that a secret group of pedaphiles had conspired to undermine former President Trump.
But Languerand told the judge that he followed a peaceful version of QAnon supposedly espoused by Jacob Chansley, a shirtless rioter whose bare-chested photo of him at the Capitol wearing a helmet with horns and animal pelts went viral on the internet.
Bates, who called QAnon a "purveyor of false conspiracy theories," indicated he was not entirely convinced by Languerand's current rejection of QAnon and ordered that after he get out of prison, his computers and phones will be monitored and subject to inspection by government officials during his two-year probation.
The judge also said he was concerned at Languerand's excitement after the riot and noted that the defendant had posted this message: "Next time, we come back with rifles."
This story will be updated with more details from Wednesday's hearing.