Capitol rioter’s lawyer argued client’s brain wasn’t fully developed

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Capitol rioter's lawyer argued client's brain wasn't fully developed

A 20-year-old Capitol Hill rioter from Bucks County, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 14 days in prison, despite his lawyer’s suggestion that his brain may not have been fully developed on Jan. 6, 2021.

Leonard Pearson “Pearce” Ridge IV was just 19 years old when he drove from Pennsylvania to Washington DC to participate in the riot that caused $1.5 million in damages and saw 140 police officers injured by the mob, outraged over the 2020 election results.

Ridge, who is one of the youngest defendants charged yet by the Department of Justice, busted down the doors to the offices of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He admitted to spending nearly 40 minutes inside the capitol.

A Snapchat video he took and later shared showed the chaotic scene inside the Capitol. A voice can be heard yelling: “America first, bitch!”

Leonard Pearson “Pearce” Ridge IV
Ridge did not get off too easy. He has one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and faces a $1,000 fine.
DOJ

Days after the insurrection, he bragged to his friends on Snapchat that he “just made history.”

Ridge, who has had to put off attending college with the charges hanging over his head, said he regretted what he did.

“If I could do it over again, I would have never entered that building or done any of the things I did that day,” he told US District Judge John E. Boasberg through sobs on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Carina Laguzzi, Ridge’s attorney, asked the judge to be lenient before her client’s sentencing citing medical studies that suggest the human brain may not be fully developed until an individual’s mid-20s, according to reports

Leonard Pearson “Pearce” Ridge IV
Leonard Pearson “Pearce” Ridge IV was 19 years old when he participated in the Capitol riot.
DOJ

She additionally blamed her client’s actions on mob mentality, political radicalization from social media and former President Donald Trump, as well as “global outrage over the pandemic.”

“He really did not understand that walking into the Capitol building would be such an egregious act,” she said, according to the Inquirer. “And while many are calling for incarceration of all of the people involved in the case, it is important to see the situation for what it is. He was extremely young.”

Ridge told the court that he had only gotten involved in politics in the months before Jan. 6.

Prosecutors sought to jail Ridge for 45 days. They argued that while Ridge’s individual actions were less serious than those of other rioters who assaulted police officers, they were still significant.

Capitol Riot
Ridge’s attorney asked the judge to be mindful that her client’s brain may not be fully developed on Jan. 6, 2021.
AP

Judge Boasberg said that “teenage bravado” may have fueled Ridge’s social media postings during and after the riot, but his actions were largely premeditated. 

“There are perhaps people who attended the rally who were swept up in the crowd, or swept up in the moment,” the judge said. “But that is not true for you, given your previous statements.”

Ridge’s sentence additionally includes one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine. He pleaded guilty in October to one misdemeanor count of entering a restricted area, six months after tips from high school classmates led to his arrest.

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