MIAMI -'s mother speaks out following her son's lengthy prison sentence. At a press conference held inside the Miami Lakes law office of her son's attorney, Zuny Duarte Tarrio said she kept quiet until now, believing the justice system would work.
She believes her son's a "pawn" in the Justice Department's prosecution and the case against him a "witch hunt."
"I think that's the best person they could have got," said Duarte Tarrio.
Sitting in a crowded law office, she fielded questions alongside her son's attorney, Niyab Hassan. She feels the former Proud Boy's leader's notoriety played a significant role.
"Giving him 22 years and putting everything out there shuts many people up," added Duarte Tarrio.
On Tuesday, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio received a 22-year prison sentence, the longest handed down for people charged in connection with the Capitol riot.
"I can't even begin to tell you the pain it causes," said Duarte Tarrio.
Tarrio was convicted on multiple charges, including seditious conspiracy related to his efforts to disrupt the 2020 presidential election certification.
CBS News Miami's Joe Gorchow asked Hassan why the defense team rejected the government's plea deal. CBS News obtained the new defense court filings. In them, it showed that a deal was presented last October, and Tarrio's sentence may have been reduced to nine to ten years.
"At the tail end of it, the government could have requested a terrorist enhancement, which would have shifted the guidelines to a whole different level," said Hassan. "The risk we had to assume going into trial."
Tarrio wasn't present during the riot. In their sentencing papers, prosecutors described him as the "primary organizer." Also, writing "He was a general rather than a soldier." During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence of Tarrio using social media during the riot: "Make no mistake, we did this."
Gorchow asked Tarrio's mother, "When your son was the leader of the Proud Boys, do you feel that group had any influence to act on January 6th?"
"There is," Duarte Tarrio said after a brief pause. "They carried their own weight in some way. I never find it to be a negative."
She does not believe he had a role in the riots and that the 22-year prison sentence was harsh.
"Those text messages were a lot of a group of guys just talking text messages and just saying things that they felt, but they never even dreamed of something like this happening," said Duarte Tarrio.
Tarrio's defense team tells us they plan to file an appeal on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
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