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'QAnon Shaman' from Capitol riot likely to appeal sentence this week

Jacob Chansley, who wore face paint and horns during the Jan. 6 siege, hired two new lawyers who face a Wednesday deadline to file a notice.
Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, at the U.S. Capital on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jacob Chansley, the man known as the QAnon Shaman, at the U.S. Capital on Jan. 6.Brent Stirton / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The man known as the “QAnon Shaman” said he has hired two new lawyers, indicating he is likely to appeal his sentence this week for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The man, Jacob Chansley, who wore face paint and horns during the riot, said at a brief hearing Monday that he intended to hire the attorneys and confirmed that he had fired his previous defense counsel, Albert Watkins. Chansley was sentenced this month to 41 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction when Watkins represented him. 

“Mr. Chansley is an extremely smart man, very intelligent, if not savant-like, and I sincerely wish him all the best in his life,” Watkins told NBC News after the hearing. 

Under federal appellate procedure, Chansley and his lawyers have until Wednesday to file a notice of appeal. 

Questions about who was representing Chansley arose last week when one of the new lawyers, John Pierce, entered a notice of appearance in the case. He and another lawyer, William Shipley, declared in a statement that they were taking over the case and exploring every option, including filing an appeal and claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

Pierce once represented Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted last week in the fatal shootings of two men during protests last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Watkins next released his own statement. saying he remained Chansley’s lawyer and that Chansley did not “personally authorize Mr. Pierce to represent him.”

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who sentenced Chansley to one of the longest prison sentences so far in the Jan. 6 case, ordered Monday’s hearing to clear up the confusion. 

In his plea agreement, Chansley waived most of his rights to appeal, but he remains able to claim ineffective assistance of counsel. To prove it, Chansley’s lawyers would have to show that Watkins failed to adequately represent him and that the lack of competent representation had a direct impact on the outcome of the case. 

Chansley would be the second Jan. 6 defendant to appeal his sentence. Scott Fairlamb, a former MMA fighter and owner of a New Jersey gym, filed a notice of appeal Wednesday, two weeks after he was sentenced to 41 months in prison for punching a police officer during the riot. 

Both Chansley and Fairlamb expressed desire to take responsibility for their actions during their sentencing hearings. 

“I take full responsibility for what I did that day,” Fairlamb told Lamberth at the time. “That’s not who I am. That’s not who I was raised to be.”

Chansley told Lamberth that his behavior was “indefensible” and that he had “no excuse whatsoever.”