(WHNT) — An Athens man has been sentenced for charges he faced in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, alongside his cousin from Mississippi.
The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) announced Monday that 44-year-old Donnie Duane Wren of Athens was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison plus 24 months of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.
A jury convicted Wren of two felonies and one misdemeanor on May 5.
Wren’s cousin, 45-year-old Thomas Harlen Smith, was sentenced to 108 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release by Walton, after a jury convicted Smith of 11 charges, including nine felonies and two misdemeanors, on May 5.
The USDOJ says that evidence presented during their trials and court documents show Smith picked Wren up on his way from Mississippi to Washington, D.C. to attend a rally held by former president Donald Trump.
“On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, Smith and Wren attended the rally and afterward made their way toward the U.S. Capitol building. Before entering Capitol grounds, Smith climbed a column near the African American History Museum with the outdated Mississippi state flag,” the USDOJ added.
The USDOJ said the cousins observed rioters climbing scaffolding around the stage for the presidential inauguration, then climbed the structure and made their way to the Lower West Terrace Tunnel. Smith then pushed toward the front and used a flagpole as a ‘spear,’ driving it at the window five times in an attempt to break it.
Surging through the doorway, the department said he and a mass of other rioters pushed into a line of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers who were attempting to hold the door shut.
“Smith then exited the Tunnel and reunited with his cousin, Wren, who had witnessed the violence directed by other rioters against police officers in the area. The two posed for a photograph together on the Lower West Terrace. Smith and Wren then climbed up a railing to the Upper West Terrace and confronted a line of police officers using riot shields and attempting to clear the area. Smith and Wren pushed back against the police line, placing their hands on the officer’s shields and leaning back into the police. Wren leaned all his weight into the riot shield, preventing the police officer from advancing. Wren’s push against the riot shield was an early assault on the Terrace that instigated the fight between rioters and police attempting to clear the area,” the DOJ said.
Smith witnessed an object fly past him during this time and hit an officer, then reportedly yelled at the officer, “You deserve that, you piece of s—!” Officials said that sometime later that day, Smith kicked an MPD officer in the back, sending them ‘to the ground.’ Then he picked up a ‘metal pole-like object’ and threw it toward the line of police, hitting two MPD officers in the head, according to the USDOJ.
Officials say they found a post on Facebook made by Smith, where he described the assault on the Capitol. “Patriots stood together and battled the tyrannical cops throughout the entire afternoon,” Smith said in the post.
Wren was convicted of civil disorder and assaulting, impeding, or resisting officers, both felonies, and a single misdemeanor charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
Smith was convicted of nine felony charges at trial, including assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon, obstruction of an official proceeding, two counts of civil disorder, two counts of assaulting, impeding, or resisting officers; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon. He was also convicted of two misdemeanors.
“In the 33 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,100 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 400 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony. The investigation remains ongoing,” the Department of Justice said.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Birmingham Field Offices and the Homestead, Florida and Oxford, Mississippi Resident Agencies, which listed Wren as #219 on their seeking information photos. Assistance in the investigation was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Prince George’s County Police Department.