Jan. 6 rioter Julian Khater pleads guilty to assaulting late Officer Brian Sicknick

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WASHINGTON – The Jan. 6 rioter who pepper-sprayed the late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick pleaded guilty Thursday and faces more than six years in prison when sentenced – one of the longest sentences yet from the insurrection.

Julian Khater, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon. He faces 78 to 97 months in prison when sentenced Dec. 13 by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, under federal guidelines. Khater also faces an obligation to pay restitution to victims of the attack who suffered bodily injury, which will be determined at sentencing, Hogan said.

"Yes, your honor," Khater said, when Hogan asked if he wanted plead guilty.

Khater's co-defendant, George Tanios, pleaded guilty July 27 to two misdemeanors and faces up to six months in jail and a $20,000 fine when sentenced Dec. 6, under federal guidelines.

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Julian Elie Khater, 32, of State College, Pennsylvania, was charged in the assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Julian Elie Khater, 32, of State College, Pennsylvania, was charged in the assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

The longest sentences so far were 87 months for Thomas Robertson, a Virginia police officer at the time of the riot, and Guy Reffitt, a Texas militia member. The next longest were 63 months in prison each for Mark Ponder and Robert Scott Palmer, who were charged separately with assaulting police officers outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters attacked the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election victory.

Tanios bought two cannisters of Frontiersman bear spray and two cannisters of pepper spray the day before the riot and he carried them in his backpack, according to court records. Khater asked for the bear spray after police sprayed rioters with pepper spray and a video recording captured Khater spraying Sicknick during the siege, according to court records.

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Hogan's recitation of the details of the assault described Khater spraying three officers in the face – two of Capitol Police and one of D.C. Metro police – with pepper spray rather than bear spray.

Sicknick died the next day of what was ruled natural causes from strokes.

A fellow officer's description of the assault on Sicknick provided some of the most riveting testimony during House investigative hearings about the Capitol attack.

Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a concussion when she was knocked to the ground while battling rioters outside the west front of the Capitol, saw Sicknick grab his head and sit down after he was sprayed. But she said he turned pale rather than the typical red in reaction to pepper spray.

“All of a sudden, I see movement to the left of me and I turned and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in this hands,” Edwards testified June 9 at a hearing of the House committee investigating the attack. “And he was ghostly pale, which I figured at that point that he had been sprayed and I was concerned.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jan 6 rioter Khater pleads guilty to assaulting Officer Brian Sicknick