Gracyn Courtright, who went around the Capitol holding a wooden “Members Only” sign she swiped, was “caught up in the hysteria of the day” and responded on social media “without thinking about what she was saying” when she wrote on social media that “Infamy is just as good as fame. Either way I end up more known. XOXO” and that she couldn’t wait to “tell my grandkids” she was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, her lawyer wrote.
Federal prosecutors are asking Judge Christopher Cooper to send Courtright to prison for six months at her sentencing on Friday, writing that she would have likely faced felony charges had the Justice Department discovered footage confirming Courtright’s presence on the Senate floor (another non-violent defendant who went on the Senate floor received a felony conviction and eight months in prison, while the man known as the “QAnon Shaman” received 41 months).
“Just as troubling as her entry into the Capitol, her posts and statements after she left the Capitol appear to show a near total lack of remorse,” they wrote. “As noted above, she falsely portrayed the level of violence and destruction inside the Capitol; posted that ‘infamy is just as good as fame’; and ‘thought it was cool.’”
But her defense attorney said Courtright was a minor player in the day’s events who will forever be branded as a Capitol riot participant.
“Ms. Courtright did not set out from her small hometown of Hurricane, West Virginia to subvert democracy. She came to see former President Trump speak at the rally which was supposed to be his last. She thought it would be an historical event. She didn’t even vote in the election,” her attorney Thomas Abbenante wrote in a sentencing memo over the weekend.
“The postings on social media are not disputed. They are what they are. They are troubling but they do not reflect the true nature of Ms. Courtright. What they truly reflect is her lack of understanding of what occurred on that day. Her conduct on January 6th, while admittedly unlawful, was neither aggressive nor malicious,” the lawyer wrote.
But once the “reality of the situation set in and she was back home with her family in West Virginia, she was totally embarrassed by her actions and was full of remorse. Her parents were furious with her,” her lawyer wrote.
Federal prosecutors said Courtright later told investigators that she was looking for a place to charge her phone inside and that she didn’t realize when she first went onto the Senate floor that she was on the Senate floor.
“As she went inside, she claimed that she was focused on turning her phone on and did not pay attention to what was going on around her. She did remember seeing a circle of law enforcement officers, people chanting, people trying to break things, and others telling them not to break things,” they wrote. “According to the defendant, after she entered she started looking for a place to charge her phone.”
Courtright, who pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor count of unlawfully and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, is set to be sentenced at an in-person hearing at 10 a.m. Friday.