Politics

Jan. 6 Defendant Takes His Own Life, Died Of ‘Broken Heart,’ Family Says

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Matthew L. Perna, a Pennsylvania man prosecuted for his 20-minute walk through the U. S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, took his own life on Feb. 25 due to “a broken heart” and a justice system that “killed his spirit and his zest for life,” his family said.

Perna, 37, of Sharpsville, was due to be sentenced on March 3 in the U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in a plea agreement on charges of obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. One charge is a felony and the others are misdemeanors.

Perna learned that prosecutors would seek an even longer jail sentence based on “domestic terrorism deterrence,” Julie Kelly of American Greatness wrote on Twitter on Sunday night.

“His community (which he loved), his country, and the justice system killed his spirit and his zest for life,” his online obituary reads.

“He didn’t break, touch, or steal anything. He did not harm anyone, as he stayed within the velvet ropes taking pictures,” the obituary said. “For this act, he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives, and people who had never met him.

“The constant delays in hearings and postponements dragged out for over a year,” the obituary said. “Because of this, Matt’s heart broke and his spirit died, and many people are responsible for the pain he endured.

“Matt did not have a hateful bone in his body. He embraced people of all races, income brackets, and beliefs, never once berating anyone for having different views.”

Geri Perna, Matthew Perna’s aunt, said the tragedy was “beyond devastating.”

“He was the kindest person you ever met,” Geri told The Epoch Times. “He was not like some of those rioters who went there acting obnoxious. No, that wasn’t our Matthew.”

Geri said the family never understood why the U. S. Department of Justice filed a felony charge in the case. “He didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have an altercation with police officers. He didn’t break anything or steal anything or take anything,” she said.

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The prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations have not been posted online yet. Charging documents said Perna and Stephen Ayres entered the Capitol at 2:47 p.m., nearly 30 minutes after Congress adjourned due to rioting, and nearly an hour after Vice President Mike Pence’s motorcade was seen leaving the Capitol, court records show. Perna remained in the building for 20 minutes, filming with his phone.

At one point during his time in the Capitol, a government “statement of facts” asserted on Jan. 18, 2021, Perna “became frustrated and, using a metal pole, tapped on a window of the Capitol building.” Court records do not allege that he damaged the window or any other property, or committed any violent or disruptive acts.

Prosecutors wrote that Perna wore a red Make America Great Again sweatshirt and chanted “USA! USA! USA!” while filming with his phone.

Perna later uploaded an 8-minute video to Facebook, in which he allegedly said, “It’s not over, trust me. The purpose of today was to expose Pence as a traitor.”

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Two unnamed informants who said they were familiar with Perna called the FBI on Jan. 13, 2021, after recognizing him in videos posted online. One alleged that Perna purchased a handgun in the previous several months, court records show. There is no indication Perna had any type of weapon… (Read more)

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