A Pilot Mountain woman who took her 14-year-old son into the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, is challenging the sentence she received last week — three-months in federal prison followed by three years of probation.
Virginia Marie Spencer, 38, pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 2021, to a misdemeanor charge of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a federal building.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Spencer after a hearing on Jan. 7.
Allen H. Orenberg, Spencer’s attorney, filed a motion Tuesday, asking Kollar-Kotelly to enter an order correcting her sentence. He also asks the judge to delay the sentence until the alleged mistake is corrected.
In court papers, Orenberg said Kollar-Kotelly was wrong to impose both an active prison sentence and a probationary sentence. Because Spencer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for what Orenberg says is legally a petty offense, Kollar-Kotelly was not authorized to sentence Spencer to a three-months in federal prison followed by probation.
“The Court should either impose a sentence of imprisonment, without a term of supervised released (sic), or a period of ‘straight’ probation, or a period of probation with a special condition of home confinement,” Orenberg said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Collyer opposes the motion, Orenberg said in court papers.
Orenberg said Kollar-Kotelly made an error that he claims must be corrected.
Prosecutors allege that Virginia Spencer and her husband, Christopher Spencer, went to a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, where former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him through fraud. There’s no evidence for this claim. On this day, hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying the presidential election that President Joe Biden won.
Rioters assaulted 139 law-enforcement officers and caused $1.5 million in damages to the Capitol building, including broken windows.
Federal prosecutors allege that the Spencers took their 14-year-old son into the Capitol and stayed there for more than 30 minutes, joining at least three different groups of people. Christopher Spencer, who faces similar pending charges, livestreamed himself in the Capitol on Facebook, and Virginia Spencer took selfies with her phone, prosecutors allege.
The couple was part of a group that overwhelmed law-enforcement officers near the Crypt, a large circular room underneath the rotunda. Then they briefly entered the suite of offices belonging to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before turning away, prosecutors said.
In Statuary Hall, the Spencers joined another group of people outside the House Chambers as they tried to get inside. Members of Congress were inside at the time. Prosecutors said Virginia Spencer was not at the front and was not vocal, but the group of rioters chanted “Stop the steal!” and “Break it down.”
Kollar-Kotelly said at the sentencing hearing on Jan. 7 that she could not comprehend why Virginia Spencer would bring her 14-year-old son to the U.S. Capitol where a violent confrontation was taking place. And she said there was nothing peaceful about what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.
“This was an insurrection,” she said.
A hearing on the motion has not yet been scheduled. Prosecutors have until Jan. 14 to file a written response to the motion.