A Pilot Mountain woman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Thursday in connection to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, according to court records. She is accused, along with her husband, of going into the U.S. Capitol without permission.
Virginia Marie Spencer, 38, became the first person from the Triad to be convicted on charges related to what happened on Jan. 6. On that day, hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol, assaulting law-enforcement officers and causing $1.4 million in property damage, in an effort to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying the presidential election. They falsely believed that the election had been stolen from former president Donald Trump due to voter fraud. There is no evidence that Trump won the election.
Spencer appeared via Zoom in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. She also had been facing three other misdemeanor charges — entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
As part of the plea arrangement, federal prosecutors will request that those remaining charges be dismissed. Spencer could face a six-month prison sentence. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scheduled Spencer’s sentencing for Jan. 7, 2022. Spencer will be out on pre-trial release until then.
As part of the plea agreement, Spencer must pay $500 for restitution.
Charges are still pending for Spencer’s husband, Christopher Spencer. There was a plea hearing for Christopher Spencer scheduled for Sept. 1, the same date that Virginia Spencer was initially scheduled to plead. But the hearing was continued to Thursday after Virginia Spencer became sick. A plea hearing for Christopher Spencer has not been rescheduled, but he has a status hearing scheduled for Oct. 8.
Christopher Spencer was the first person in North Carolina to be charged in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. At least six people from the Triad have been charged, including Charles Donohoe, a Kernersville resident and Proud Boys leader, and Laura Steele, a former High Point police officer from Thomasville.
In court papers, federal prosecutors allege that Virginia and Christopher Spencer walked to the U.S. Capitol where they passed bike rack fences set up around the perimeter and then spent time in the crowd near the inauguration stage on the west side of the Capitol building, watching as some attacked law-enforcement officers.
Then they went up the northern set of stairs underneath the scaffolding at the northwest terrace near the Senate wing of the building, prosecutors alleged. The couple got into the Capitol building through a door that other rioters had broken down. Just before, windows on either side of the door had been broken out, according to court papers.
Virginia and Christopher Spencer walked into the Crypt where others were attacking officers trying to hold the crowd back, prosecutors said. They went upstairs to the second floor and walked briefly into a hallway of offices belonging to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before going to Statuary Hall.
Prosecutors said they joined a crowed in the Statuary Hall Connector outside the House of Representatives, walked down the hall toward the east side of the building and left through a portico outside the House of Representatives on the east side.
Federal prosecutors said Virginia Spencer admitted what she had done during an interview with the FBI on Jan. 19.
Authorities have said that Christopher Spencer did a Facebook livestream where he is seen encouraging people to kick open the doors of the U.S. House chamber and yelling obscenities as police approached the mob inside an area in the Capitol.
When he was in the Crypt at the Capitol, Spencer is heard saying that the crowd “stormed the Capitol, bro...pushed the cops out of the way, everything...took it over,” authorities said.
He’s also shown chanting with a crowd, “Who’s House? Our House” and “Stop the Steal!” repeatedly.
Virginia Spencer said, according to a criminal complaint, that when Trump talked about marching to the Capitol, she and her husband made their way to the building. She said she and her husband were forced into the building by the force of the crowd. They said they left within 15 minutes. Investigators said video footage does not show the Spencers actively looking for a way out. They also said video shows Virginia Spencer using her phone inside the building in what appeared to be an effort to record the events.
She also wore a gray knit cap, a black facemask and a jacket with the anti-gun-control message: “F*** gun control,” with the letters F and K formed by weapons positioned accordingly.