ST. LOUIS — A day before the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a St. Louis County man pleaded guilty to his role in the attack.
William Merry pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property after he admitted to being inside the Capitol and stealing part of the sign that hung over Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.
Merry was originally charged with:
- theft of government property
- knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds
- disorderly conduct which impedes the conduct of government business
- disruptive conduct in the Capitol building
Merry admitted to traveling Washington D.C. with his niece Emily Hernandez and friend Paul Westover to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. After marching to the Capitol, Merry, Westover and Hernandez saw rioters break through police barricades and storm the capitol.
In his plea, Merry said they entered the Senate Wing door to the Capitol before making their way to the House Speaker’s Suite. Merry said he saw someone rip a sign that said “Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi” off the entryway and a second person smash the sign against the wall.
He said he then encouraged his niece to pick up a piece of the sign, and the pair held it up for a video that was shared widely on social media.
While still on Capitol property, Hernandez stopped to be interviewed by a blogger while Merry and Westover could be seen in the background. The blogger asked his audience if they wanted to see "proof" of the instruction and Hernandez held up part of the sign from above Pelosi's office and a "Keep Off Fence" sign.
When Hernandez surrendered to the FBI, she turned over both signs and a few other items from the Capitol.
Merry will be sentenced on March 21, and the plea deal listed a sentencing guideline of fewer than six months in prison and a fine of up to $9,500.
Westover has also pleaded guilty.