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Seven Utahns charged with insurrection crimes and where their cases stand one year after Capitol riots

Posted at 7:55 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 10:10:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY — One Utah man was captured in a quintessential photo from Jan. 6, 2021.

Two other Utahns face years in prison. Four people from Utah are charged with misdemeanors from the insurrection at the Capitol.

Landon Copeland became a poster child for the insurrection when an Associated Press photographer snapped a photo of him wrestling police for a crowd control gate.

Read - Lawmakers, media members at Capitol on Jan. 6 recall riots as anniversary approaches

“They took that crowd control gate,” Copeland told FOX 13 in an interview in May from the jail in Hurricane, Utah, “and they had it up about chest high and they were pushing it into people stabbing them with the feet on the bottom of it.”

“And I grabbed a hold of it with the rest of the people that were there, and we went to shaking it trying to shake the officers off of it. And then, they hit everybody with pepper spray and they were saying, ‘Hit their hands! Hit their hands!’”

A grand jury has indicted Copeland on 11 counts. He’s the only Utahn accused of assaulting police that day and the only one in jail pending trial.

Brady Knowlton, of Dammeron Valley, is the only Utah resident accused of being in the Senate chamber that day. He’s been indicted on six counts, including a felony carrying up to 20 years in prison.

John Earle Sullivan, is a former speed skater and political activist who said he was at the Capitol to document the day. He had no press credentials and court papers allege he shouted encouragement to the protesters. He’s been indicted on eight counts, including felonies accusing him of having a knife in the Capitol and then lying to the FBI about it.

Sullivan, Copeland and Knowlton have pleaded not guilty.

Jacob K. Wiedrich, of Sandy, is the only Utahn to have pleaded guilty so far – admitting to a misdemeanor count of picketing, parading or demonstrating in the Capitol. He faces up to six months in jail at his January 19 sentencing.

Read - Two more Utahns expected to plead guilty to Jan. 6 Capitol riot charges

However, if similar Capitol insurrection cases are any guide, he’ll likely only receive probation.

That goes for three other Utahns – former Salt Lake City police detective Michael Lee Hardin, his step-mother-in-law Janet Buhler and Toquerville resident Willard Jake Peart. The three are charged with misdemeanors and have change of plea hearings scheduled. That’s an indication they plan to plead guilty.

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