A judge ordered the release into family custody of an accused January 6 rioter, who went to great lengths to distance himself from other defendants. He was told to stay in therapy and steer clear of Fox News and MSNBC.
Thomas Sibick, 35, of Buffalo, New York was ordered to stay at his parents’ home 24 hours a day, except for medical and legal reasons and a single church visit a week. US District Judge Amy B. Jackson said she was giving him one chance to prove that he genuinely wants to turn his life around – at least until his trial on multiple felony charges related to the Capitol Hill riot is resolved.
Sibick was among thousands of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump who showed up in Washington, DC and broke into the Capitol Building as the certification of Joe Biden’s victory was underway. In addition to overarching charges of participating in civil disorder and disruptive behavior, he is accused of robbing DC Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone as other rioters were assaulting him. Sibick, prosecutors said, stole Fanone’s radio and badge, the latter of which he buried in his home’s yard.
Since participating in those violent events, Sibick appears to have had a complete change of heart on Trump. A letter that he sent to Justice Jackson ahead of the Tuesday detention hearing explained how he now believed that January 6 was “a disgrace to our nation” and that he “loathed” Trump, whom he held ultimately responsible for it. He pledged to never attend any political protest in his life and abide by any and all conditions of his release, if granted.
Thomas Sibick wrote a letter to Judge Jackson saying he now “loathes” Donald Trump and that Trump should be “ostracized” from society. You can read it here: https://t.co/RC5q7BZ1M6
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) October 26, 2021
As she agreed to grant Sibick bond and put him in the care of his father, Dr. Eugene Sibick, she ordered him to continue his therapy sessions. She told him to stay clear of all social media and instructed his parents not to allow any political talk shows in their home.
“I’m not going to order that he not watch Fox News,” she said during the hearing, implying such a one-sided order would be controversial. “I’m going to order that you turn off the talk shows, period. No MSNBC either.”
The defendant’s dad is a former US Navy officer and a Republican, but his mother leans left, the son’s attorney said during the hearing. Eugene Sibick considers his son a political prisoner and spoke on his behalf during a ‘Justice for J6’ rally last month, denouncing his continued detention. Thomas was arrested in March.
Sibick’s lawyer: He cited Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you ordered them not to watch TV he would be fine with that. He would like his son home.
Judge Jackson: I want to make sure there’s respect for this proceeding.
— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) October 26, 2021
Justice Jackson also suggested that if Sibick manages to secure a steady job, she may grant him permission to leave the house for employment.
Her decision seemed heavily influenced by reports that January 6 rioters are undergoing further radicalization at DC’s Correctional Treatment Facility. People at the so-called “patriot wing” of the jail have allegedly developed their own bonding rituals and other ways to hold together in the face of what many of their supporters believe to be persecution by the Biden administration.
Sibick was described by guards as a “model inmate” and made significant efforts to break up with the “cult-like” crowd, his attorney, Stephen Brennwald, said during the hearing. His client asked to be held in solitary confinement to avoid other inmates, he stressed.
“Mr. Sibick has gone through extraordinary lengths to separate himself from the toxic environment he was in in that unit,” Brennwald said.
In early October, the same judge denied Sibick’s petition for a pre-trial release, but this time she ruled he deserved the benefit of the doubt.
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