Alpine man sentenced to a week in prison and probation for participating in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Sean Watson originally bragged about his role in the attack, though his attorney says he now regrets his actions.

Prosecutors say Watson was captured in cell phone footage while inside the Capitol building. This image was among those included in an affidavit unsealed after his arrest.

By Travis Bubenik

An Alpine, Texas man who prosecutors say called the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection the “proudest day” of his life was sentenced this month to a week in prison and two years probation for his role in the attack.

Sean Watson pleaded guilty earlier this year to a misdemeanor charge of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing” inside the U.S. Capitol during the attack, a common lower-level charge brought against many of the more than 800 Jan. 6 defendants.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta sentenced Watson at a hearing on Sept. 6, federal prosecutors and his defense attorney said. An actual sentencing order has not yet been released.

In an interview with Marfa Public Radio, defense attorney Shane O’Neal said Watson’s 24-month probation sentence includes a condition of seven days imprisonment. Watson was given a two-day credit for the time he spent in jail after his arrest in April and will only actually serve five days of the sentence, O’Neal said.

The sentence was something of a middle ground between the two-week prison sentence prosecutors had requested and the probation-only sentence the defense asked for.

In court documents, prosecutors said Watson entered the Capitol after watching rioters overtake police officers and then break into the building’s west side. He remained inside the building for just over 30 minutes, they said.

Images released in court documents show Watson posing outside and inside the Capitol with what appears to be a flag supporting former President Donald Trump, whose lies about a stolen election encouraged the rioters.

Prosecutors also explicitly cited an interview that Watson gave to local TV news station KOSA in early February after FBI agents raided his home, in which Watson bragged about his role in the attack and said he was proud of his actions.

In asking the judge for a more lenient sentence, O’Neal argued that Watson “recognizes the mistakes he made” during the attack and “now looks back on that time and wonders how he got so caught up in political passions that he was inspired to join a mob that turned violent.”

The defense attorney said Watson expressed remorse to the judge at the sentencing hearing.

“He said he was very embarrassed by what he did at the Capitol, and by the statements he made saying that he was proud of what he did,” O’Neal said.

Watson’s behavior since his arrest sits in stark contrast to that of Jenny Cudd, another West Texan convicted this year for participating in the Capitol attack.

Cudd, a Midland resident and former mayoral candidate there, was sentenced in March to two months probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for her role in the insurrection. But in online posts she has expressed support for her fellow Jan. 6 defendants, calling them “political prisoners” and saying she supports the idea of pardons for the rioters.

Editor’s note: Shane O’Neal, the defense attorney cited in this story, sits on Marfa Public Radio’s Board of Directors.

About Travis Bubenik

All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter
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