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One year later: where Jan. 6 cases from Hampton Roads stand

Capitol riot
Posted at 12:18 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 18:26:49-05

NORFOLK, Va. - One year ago hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol during what prosecutors call an attack.

Since then, federal prosecutors say more than 700 people have been arrested in all 50 states.

News 3 used court records to identify 12 people from the Hampton Roads region who have been charged for their alleged involvement in the riot.

Among them, three have pleaded guilty.

Cindy Fitchett, who was arrested in Suffolk, pleaded guilty in August to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. She was sentenced in November to one month of home detention and 36 months of probation.

Jacob Hiles, a fishing boat charter captain from Virginia, pleaded guilty in September to parading, demonstrating, or picketing a Capitol building. He was sentenced to two years of probation in December.
Prosecutors introduced a picture from Hiles' Facebook page showing him inside the Capitol as evidence.

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Photo introduced in court documents of Jake Hiles inside U.S. Capitol.

Douglas Sweet, of Mathews, pleaded guilty in August to Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building. He was sentenced in November to 36 months probation with one month of home detention.

News 3 spoke with Sweet shortly after the riot in January 2021. "Trump asked all the patriots to show up, so I did," he said.

Nine other people from the Hampton Roads area still have cases against them pending.

Willard Bostic and his daughter Meghan Rutledge face four charges and are accused of entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. The two are from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Both pleaded not guilty in December. A status conference is scheduled for March. Prosecutors say Rutledge posted about entering the Capitol on Facebook.

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Prosecutors say Rutledge posted about entering the U.S. Capitol on Facebook.

Kene Lazo, of Norfolk, faces four charges and is also accused of entering the U.S. Capitol. He pleaded not guilty in August with a status conference scheduled for February.

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Prosecutors say Lazo posted pictures of him inside and outside of the Capitol.

Jonathan Mellis, who had been living in Williamsburg, faces nine charges. One of the charges accused him of an Act of Physical Violence in the Capitol Grounds or Buildings. Prosecutors say he hit police officers with a stick. He was arrested in February 2021 and has been held without bond since then.

Mellis pleaded not guilty initially in March 2021, but was indicted on nine charges in November.

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Prosecutors say Jonathan Mellis used a stick to hit police officers.

Robert Packer, of Newport News, faces two charges and is accused of entering the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors introduced pictures of him wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt. He pleaded not guilty in February 2021 with a status conference scheduled in the case for late January.

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Melody Steele-Smith of Gloucester is also accused of entering the U.S Capitol on Jan. 6. Investigators say she posted on social media about being in the Capitol, including inside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

Steele-Smith pleaded not guilty shortly after her arrest with a status conference in the case scheduled for this upcoming March.

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Ryan Suleski, of Williamsburg, is charged with entering the U.S Capitol on Jan. 6.

Suleski allegedly posted TikTok and YouTube videos discussing his involvement in the riots, where he claimed he was in the "initial wave of people that forced our way into the Capitol building" and said that he got hit with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Suleski pleaded not guilty in June with a status conference in the case scheduled for mid-January.

Prosecutors released an image of him walking the halls of the Capitol.

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Prosecutors say Ryan Suleski entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Two brothers from Chesapeake, Eric and Paul Von Bernewitz, also face charges and are accused of entering the Capitol. They have pleaded not guilty with a status conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

While hundreds have been charged, federal prosecutors say they continue to investigate. "The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane," the prosecutors said in a statement.