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Judge acquits Santa Fe man on all charges in Capitol riot case

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden said it was "plausible" that police allowed Matthew Martin into the U.S. Capitol Building.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge acquitted a New Mexico man Wednesday of all charges stemming from his involvement in the Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden presided over a two-day bench trial for Matthew Martin, a Santa Fe resident and federal contractor charged with four misdemeanor counts in connection with Jan. 6.

Prosecutors told McFadden Martin entered the Capitol through the Rotunda doors after learning it had been breached by a pro-Trump mob. Martin even texted his supervisor that he was “in the hotel when I got word the capital [sic] was breached.”

While inside the building, prosecutors said, he watched other rioters fight with police and filmed broken windows and blaring alarms.

Prosecutors said Martin was inside the building for approximately 10 minutes. Afterward, in response to his supervisor telling him, “You can’t overrun the capitol building,” Martin allegedly responded, “Actually you can, rather easily I might add. Not as much security as you think. Our numbers were freaking huge. They were not prepared.”

McFadden said Wednesday he thought it was more likely than not that Martin knew he was not allowed to enter the Capitol, but thought prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that officers hadn’t allowed him and other rioters to enter, as Martin’s defense attorney Dan Cron claimed.

Martin is the first Capitol riot defendant to be acquitted of all charges against him at trial. McFadden, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, convicted another Santa Fe resident, Couy Griffin, last month of one count of entering and remaining in a restricted area but found him not guilty of disorderly conduct. McFadden ruled the government had proved Griffin knowingly entered a restricted area because he’d heard the Capitol had been breached prior to walking there – even though he, unlike Martin, never entered the building.

Also last month, a jury convicted the first Capitol riot defendant to go to trial, Guy Reffitt, of five felony counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding. Reffitt was set to be sentenced on June 8.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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