A jury has convicted a Kentucky man, the first rioter to enter the Capitol building during the January 6 attack

The first rioter to enter the United States Capitol building during the January 6, 2021, attack was convicted on Friday of interfering with police and preventing Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Michael Sparks, 46, of Kentucky, jumped through a damaged window just after another rioter destroyed it with a stolen riot shield. Sparks then joined other rioters in chasing a police officer up flights of stairs, resulting in one of the most terrifying photos from the January 6, 2021, violence.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Sparks on all six charges, including two felonies. Sparks did not testify throughout his weeklong trial. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly is set to sentence him on July 9.

Sparks was the “tip of the spear” who broke into the Capitol building less than a minute before senators withdrew to flee the mob, Justice Department prosecutor Emily Allen said during the trial’s closing arguments.

“The defendant was prepared for a civil war.” Not merely prepared for a civil war. “He wanted it,” Allen told the jury.


Defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf admitted that Sparks is guilty of the four misdemeanor counts, which include charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. However, he appealed to the jury to find him not guilty of the felony charges, specifically civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.

According to the defense attorney, Michael Sparks may have been deemed as the one who initiated the game by the government. However, the attorney argued that he was already benched and out of the game before the first quarter even ended.

Sparks embarked on a trip to Washington alongside a group of colleagues from an electronics and components plant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Together, they participated in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, held in close proximity to the White House on January 6th.

After the rally, Sparks and his co-worker, Joseph Howe, joined a crowd as they marched towards the Capitol. A cameraman’s video captured Howe confidently stating, “We’re getting in that building,” to which Sparks chimed in and said that if Pence “does his job today, he does the right thing by the Constitution, Trump’s our president four more years.”

Sparks and Howe, dressed in tactical vests, confidently pushed through the crowd and emerged at the forefront, while the outnumbered police officers withdrew.

“He still went ahead and jumped,” Allen said.

Sparks’ attorney stated that Sparks believed he was defending the Constitution on behalf of Trump and that Pence had a responsibility to invalidate the election results.

According to Wendelsdorf, although his belief was incorrect, it was genuine.

According to Allen, Sparks was aware that he had violated the law but showed no signs of remorse.

“I would go again if given the chance,” Sparks messaged his mother a day after the riot.

Sparks and his colleagues arrived back in Kentucky on January 7, 2021, after images of him storming the Capitol had already circulated online. On his journey home, Sparks took the initiative to contact the Metropolitan Police Department and volunteered to surrender himself, as disclosed by prosecutors. Subsequently, he was apprehended a few days later.

In November 2022, Sparks and Howe faced charges together in an indictment. Howe, who pleaded guilty to assault and obstruction charges, was sentenced to four years and two months in prison in October.

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