Former West Virginia state delegate pleads guilty to role in January 6 riot

Former Virginia police officer also pleads guilty to barging into US Capitol

Former West Virginia Republican state delegate Derrick Evans exits a US courthouse on January 8, 2021. AP

A former West Virginia state legislator pleaded guilty on Friday for his role in the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Derrick Evans was a Republican member of the House of Delegates but never served a day, resigning after his arrest in January 2021, a month before the start of the legislative session.

Evans pleaded guilty to a civil disorder charge, punishable by up to five years in prison. Sentencing was set for June 22.

He live-streamed himself at the Capitol while wearing a helmet. In a since-deleted mobile phone video that was widely shared online, Evans was shown clamouring in a packed doorway with other supporters of former president Donald Trump before joyfully strolling inside.

“We’re in! We’re in!” Evans yelled. “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

In the days prior, Evans told his 30,000 Facebook followers to “Fight For Trump” in the nation’s capital, a criminal complaint said.

Also pleading guilty on Friday was former Rocky Mount, Virginia, police officer Jacob Fracker.

Fracker, who was fired by the town after his arrest, has agreed to co-operate with federal prosecutors, his lawyer said. A date for his sentencing wasn’t immediately set.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, the joint session of Congress that convened on January 6 to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The felony charge is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Thomas Robertson, another former police officer and Fracker's co-defendant who also pleaded guilty, has a trial scheduled to start on April 4. The town of Rocky Mount also fired Robertson after the Capitol siege.

Fracker and Robertson were off duty when they drove with a neighbour to Washington on the morning of January 6. The indictment says Robertson brought three gas masks for them to use.

After listening to speeches near the Washington Monument, Fracker, Robertson and the neighbour identified only as “Person A” walked towards the Capitol, donned the gas masks and joined the growing mob, the indictment said.

Robertson was allegedly carrying a large wooden stick and used it to impede Metropolitan Police Department officers who arrived to help Capitol police officers hold off the mob.

The two former officers posed for a photograph inside the Capitol during the attack and later posted about the riot on social media. Robertson was photographed making an obscene gesture in front of a statue of John Stark in the Capitol’s crypt, prosecutors said.

Fracker and Robertson had sworn to uphold the law, even in “the face of volatile and challenging circumstances”, prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

“They broke this public trust when they participated in the riot at the US Capitol,” they added.

Before the riot, Robertson posted on Facebook about his belief that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate and referenced an “open armed rebellion” and “insurgency”, the indictment said.

“A legitimate republic stands on four boxes. The soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box and then the cartridge box. We just moved to step three. Step four will not be pretty,” he wrote on November 7, 2021.

Robertson has been jailed since US District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled in July that he violated terms of his pretrial release by possessing firearms. The judge rejected Robertson’s suggestion that 34 guns he ordered before June 29, when FBI agents searched his home, are simply Second World War collectables.

More than 760 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. More than 230 people have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanours, and at least 127 of them have been sentenced. About 100 others have trial dates.

Updated: March 18, 2022, 10:24 PM