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After courtroom outburst, Florida music teacher sentenced to 6 years in prison for Jan. 6 felonies

Jan. 6 defendant Audrey Southard-Rumsey leaving court, Washington, D.C., July 14, 2023. CBS News / Scott MacFarlane

A Florida music instructor who unleashed an unexpected verbal tirade at prosecutors, the media and the federal government at her court hearing Friday, has been sentenced to six years in prison in her U.S. Capitol Insurrection case. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta castigated Audrey Southard-Rumsey, 54, as a "one-person wrecking crew" on Jan. 6, 2021, and added a "terrorism enhancement" to her sentence. 

Jan. 6 defendant Audrey Southard-Rumsey on Jan. 6, 2021, from her social media account. Government exhibit

Southard-Rumsey was accused of being an agitator who was in front of the mob as it swelled near the House Speaker's Lobby, as members of Congress were hiding inside. She was also accused of screaming vulgar and misogynistic threats about Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and was charged with pushing police, and at one point, using a flagpole to push one officer.

She was found guilty on seven felony charges.

During a dramatic 15-minute statement at her sentencing hearing, Southard-Rumsey pushed aside papers that included a set of prepared remarks. She instead blistered prosecutors, calling them "liars," then accused a Capitol Police officer whom she'd allegedly confronted on Jan. 6 of being "terrified."

Turning periodically to face the prosecutors and the courtroom audience, who were seated behind her, Southard-Rumsey told the judge, "I wanted to tell you exactly what you want to hear, but I won't. I won't lie. There were vicious lies about me."

She accused Antifa of filming her amid the Capitol riot and said, "My whole dream of my life has been taken, because people have different politics than mine."

Southard-Rumsey also said, "I have grievances, since they don't listen to us at the polling place.  They don't listen to us little people in the regular world."  She said, "I'm ashamed of this country."

She also told Mehta, "When you decide to throw me in prison for doing my duty, think of what I now have to give up."

She criticized gas and grocery prices and said,  "I'm terrified about what's happening in our country."

The uniquely strident and unapologetic remarks presented a sharp contrast with dozens of the hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants who have spoken and sought leniency at sentencing.

After Southard-Rumsey's defense attorney approached the podium to urge her to wrap up her remarks, she concluded by saying, "It's not fair."

When Southard-Rumsey returned to her seat, the federal prosecutor urged the judge not to allow a customary federal court leniency at sentencing for "acceptance of responsibility."

Mehta said Southard-Rumsey's presence on the frontlines of the attack as members of Congress hid on the ground inside the House Chamber helped warrant a rarely invoked terrorism enhancement in her case.   Mehta said, "You terrorized members of Congress, including those who believe the things you do." 

The judge criticized her and other Jan. 6 defendants for "cloaking themselves in patriotism." 

He cited some of the vulgar language attributed to Southard-Rumsey from Jan. 6, including the profane and threatening language she had directed at former House Speaker Pelosi.

Jan. 6 defendant Audrey Southard-Rumsey with flagpole pressed against police officer's chest. Government exhibit

The government's criminal complaint included a number of photos of her in the Capitol and also alleged she was captured on video yelling, "Tell Pelosi we are coming for that b****." 

Southard-Rumsey was captured on a Twitter feed announcing, "Standing in front of the Capitol Building ready to take it," the complaint also said.

Her defense attorney argued Southard-Rumsey was a candidate for home confinement, rather than prison.  The defense asserted she would not protest again in the future.

During her statement to the judge, Southard-Rumsey said, "I won't protest because I'll be in prison. Why protest? You guys don't listen."

Southard-Rumsey will be permitted to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons in the coming months to serve the six-year prison sentence.

According to a Justice Department report, approximately 560 of the more than 1,000 defendants of the U.S. Capitol siege have been sentenced. Approximately 335 have received prison terms. 

Departing court, Southard-Rumsey declined requests for comment.  Turning to reporters, she said, "You all are f******* liars.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  You're why we're in this mess." 

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