Capitol rioter who testified at Jan. 6 hearing avoids jail time after judge praises displays of remorse

January 6 hearing
Stephen Ayres (C), who entered the U.S. Capitol illegally on January 6, 2021, greets U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell (L) at the conclusion of the seventh hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

An Ohio man who testified before the January 6 committee earlier this year received two years of probation for his role in the Capitol attack — avoiding any jail time.

Stephen Ayres, 41, pleaded guilty in June to one misdemeanor charge of disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building. The charge carries a maximum one-year prison sentence, but a federal judge on Thursday sentenced Ayers to probation only, acknowledging and accepting his displays of remorse.

Ayres made headlines in July after his televised testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection when he apologized to three police officers who defended the Capitol against a mob of pro-Trump rioters that day.


In court this week, Ayres apologized a second time, telling the "American people" that he was sorry for his behavior, according to The Associated Press.

"I pray every day for the officers that are struggling with this, the families that lost their loved ones," Ayres said. "I just hope one day I can wake up and not have to live with it every day," he said.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence that included 60 days of incarceration, but Ayres ultimately evaded jail time after US District Judge John Bates said he believed Ayres had genuinely repented for his actions, including his testimony before the Jan. 6 panel.

In a statement shared with Insider, Ayres said he and his wife were grateful that the judge recognized his "sincere remorse."

"Now that I have been sentenced, I want to again say that it was wrong for me to be inside the Capitol and that I am sorry," Ayres said. "I'm not ashamed for going to the rally or protesting but I should not have gone inside that building and become part of a mob that terrorized police officers who were just doing their job."

"That is not who I am," he added. I am a God-fearing American, a family man who loves this country.

During his July testimony before the committee, Ayres said he had believed Trump's lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, which led him to breach the Capitol on January 6. In his Thursday statement, Ayres once again accused Trump of "taking advantage" of him and other supporters.

"My family and I have suffered – first for my bad judgment and then for speaking out. But if it helps this country get over this partisan and divisive bullshit, it will all be worth it," Ayres said.

At least 919 people have been arrested in connection to the siege and nearly 400 people have pleaded guilty.

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