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A January 6 rioter who allegedly loved Hitler so much that he dressed up as him on several occasions has been convicted for his role in the US Capitol attack in 2021.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, an alleged Nazi sympathizer and Army reservist, tried and failed to convince a jury this week that he didn't know the Capitol building is where Congress meets, causing several jurors to scoff at his claims.
"I thought there were several buildings called 'Capitol building'," Cusanelli told a prosecutor. “I did not realize that Congress met in the Capitol."
“I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” he told jurors on Thursday, 26 May. “I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is,” he added, despite later claiming to be an expert regarding the workings of the Electoral College process and American politics in general.
Once sentenced, Hale-Cusanelli will be the fifth January 6 rioter to be convicted by a jury in Washington, DC, and faces up to 20 years behind bars for, among other charges, the felony of obstructing an official proceeding, CNN reports.
Hale-Cusanelli has been in jail since February 2021, in part due to prosecutors presenting substantial evidence of his past racist comments and actions.
According to prosecutors, 34 of his colleagues who were interviewed by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service said he held 'extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women', NPR reports.
Although jurors were not exposed to the full extent of the defendant’s racist comments, court documents and witness testimony presented during the trial revealed that he once told a colleague that 'Hitler should have finished the job'.
In fact, Hale-Cusanelli was apparently so fond of Hitler that he even dressed up as him, as depicted in several photographs from April 2020. He also reportedly went to work after having shaved his facial hair into a 'Hitler mustache'.
Yet despite his pleas of ignorance, the prosecution argued that he 'knew exactly what he was doing that day', adding that he aimed to stop the electoral college vote. "That was mission accomplished."
"This defendant is not here today because of his [history of] ugly words," prosecutor Karen Seifert told the jury, but because 'he and the crowd... decided to take matters into their own hands'.
Despite there being three jurors who remained unconvinced by the prosecution’s case, a unanimous decision was eventually reached after more than five hours of deliberation.
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One juror reportedly said he could 'put aside' Hale-Cusanelli's 'foul language', including his antisemitic comments. "You have people who have views like that," the juror said, "but the fact is that he took further actions."
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