WASHINGTON — A Maryland man who scaled walls outside the U.S. Capitol Building before assaulting police on Jan. 6 was sentenced Monday to 33 months in prison.
Matthew Ryan Miller, 23, of Howard County, appeared before U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss to hear his sentence for two felony charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting police. Miller’s plea deal called for a recommended sentence of 41-51 months after a dangerous weapon enhancement was dropped, and prosecutors asked Moss to sentence him to the upper end of that: 51 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In their sentencing memo, prosecutors pointed to Miller’s participation in repeated assaults on officers defending the Lower West Terrace Tunnel, including an assault with a fire extinguisher.
“Miller was not deterred by the violence surrounding him,” prosecutors wrote, “rather, he advanced to become part of it.”
But Miller’s attorney, A. Eduardo Balarezo, told Moss leniency was in order. He told the judge Miller did not join in the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, but rather came to D.C. because he thought it “would be ‘cool’ to be part of history.” Balarezo said Miller was drunk and high at the time, and, in his own sentencing memo, submitted evidence that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain – which influences impulse control and decision-making – isn’t fully developed in humans until age 25. Miller was 21 at the time of the riot.
“Matthew is a young man who made a terrible decision on January 6, 2021,” Balarezo wrote. “He recognizes that his personal conduct and participation in the riot were not born of a rational decision, but rather were fueled by alcohol and marijuana abuse. He fully accepts responsibility for what he was done and is not making excuses.”
Moss pressed Balarezo on why he should believe Miller was truly remorseful, pointing to other riot defendants who’ve said different things in and out of court. Moss also described Miller as someone who was “coaching” and “coordinating” the mob to attack police.
“I guess you would describe him as a cheerleader, your honor,” Balarezo said. “Not coaching, but cheerleading. We would accept that.”
“Cheerleaders don’t go on the field. They stay on the sidelines,” assistant U.S. attorney Jacqueline Schesnol said. “Mr. Miller very much went on the field.”
Balarezo asked Moss to sentence Miller to a year and a day – arguing his conduct was less severe than other assault cases like Robert Scott Palmer, who was ordered to serve 63 months in prison for attacking police with a wooden plank and, like Miller, a fire extinguisher.
Miller himself spoke, saying he was “ashamed by my shortcomings and naivete.”
“Seeing pictures of my inebriated behaviors that day sends shivers down my spine,” Miller said. “My intentions that day were to wear a wild outfit, drink some beers and have a great time.”
Moss described Miller's actions as more much serious, however.
"I don't think there were any attacks on officers at the Capitol as dangerous as those in the [Lower West Terrace] tunnel," Moss said.
Moss ultimately said he did give Miller some credit for his youth and his strict adherence to release conditions. He sentenced him to serve 33 months in prison. He'll also have to pay $2,000 in restitution and complete 100 hours of community service upon release.
"Mr. Miller, I know this is tough medicine," Moss said. "I actually do wish you well. I know when you get out you will serve your community and family... and move forward with having a successful life."
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