By Richard Sullins |

A Sanford man convicted in August on charges related to his participation in the violence that occurred at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 has defied a federal judge’s order to surrender and become a fugitive from justice, according to court documents.

David Joseph Gietzen, 30, of Sanford, was found guilty on August 31 of five felonies and three misdemeanors that stemmed from his participation in the riot that occurred when a horde of Trump supporters attempted to breach the grounds of the Capitol and stop the counting and certification of electoral votes that had been reported by the states following the presidential election of November 2020.

Gietzen had been allowed by the court to remain free pending sentencing on his convictions, but U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves filed a motion six days after the guilty verdicts were handed down to have Gietzen held in custody until his sentence was pronounced.

His attorneys filed a competing motion on October 6, saying that their client did not pose a danger to the community, was not a flight risk, and that his family needed his help before he was sentenced in the care of his sister’s quadruplets that were born several months after the events in Washington.

In separate motions filed at the same time in October, his attorneys asked that he be acquitted and granted a new trial.

But U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols ruled against Gietzen on October 19, saying that federal law requires the detention of persons convicted of violent crimes unless a reasonable expectation exists that such a conviction might be overturned, or a second trial was likely to be ordered. He ruled that neither of those conditions existed in the Sanford man’s case.

Nichols further wrote in his order that “Gietzen also discusses (in his motion) the impact his detention would have on his family and argues that being detained would make it harder for him to prepare for sentencing. But prison time often imposes such hardships,” meaning neither of the arguments Gietzen had offered met the “exceptional” threshold required by federal law to exempt him from detention before his sentencing date.

The judge’s order on October 19 ordered Gietzen to surrender himself by noon on the following day in Washington for confinement until his sentencing hearing, but Gietzen failed to show up. Until then, he had never missed a court appearance or even been late.

Two days later, on October 22, Nichols reset the hearing’s date to Monday, October 30 and once more, Gietzen was a no-show. By this time, however, Nichols declared the Sanford man to be a fugitive and that a further order and bench warrant would be issued in his case. A new court date of November 16 was set for further hearings and court action.

Fugitive investigations in the United States are usually led by the U.S. Marshals Service. Federal law gives marshals the broadest powers of arrest of any law enforcement agency within the federal government, and during Fiscal Year 2022, the Service arrested 28,324 federal fugitives. Marshals often call upon state and local law enforcement agencies to form a task force that casts a wider net for the person seeking to evade capture.

Fourth person from Sanford arrested

Meanwhile, a fourth person from Sanford has been charged with four criminal offenses resulting from his participation in the events at the Capitol on January 6.

Joshua Hall, a 36-year-old truck driver, was taken into custody on May 26 of this year by the FBI in Sanford after trespassing on the Capitol grounds during the riot and being one of the first to enter the building through its Parliamentarian Door seconds after it was breached at 2:42 p.m. that afternoon. He went farther into the building through its ornate Brumidi Corridor that is just outside the meeting chambers for the U.S. Senate.

The crowd encountered a line of police officers just outside the chambers and it, along with Hall, began taunting them by screaming insults. Hall was able to slip past the line and continue unimpeded inside the Capitol before finally exiting the building through the North Appointments Door 14 minutes after he had entered it.

Like Gietzen, Hall had traveled to Washington that day, along with his girlfriend and another unidentified person, to attend Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.

In the days leading up to the rally, he had allegedly researched a variety of weapons and ways to protect himself during a protest and had actually shown up in surveillance photos made on the grounds of the Capitol wearing a pink painter’s mask. He had researched “where can I buy a taser gun,” “bear mace,” “goggles for pepper spray,” and “gun store” on his computer before the riot took place.

Upon his return to Sanford, he saw his picture appearing on the front page of a Washington Post story about the insurrection and those who might have played a part in it. He recognized the man standing next to him inside the Capitol as Jon Schaffer, leader of the heavy metal group Iced Earth, and sent him an email saying that “it was an honor” to stand beside him during the uprising.

Joshua Hall of Sanford, shown entering the Capitol on January 6. Source: United States District Court

On the day after the insurrection, Hall seemed to have grown concerned about his image appearing in newspapers across the country and used his computer to search for things like “facial recognition,” “facial recognition capitol building,” and “metro pd person of interest.”

Four days later, he searched again for “fbi wanted capitol” and began looking at the FBI’s website containing pictures of persons wanted in connection with the investigation that was just beginning.

On August 1 of this year, Hall pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 USC 1752(a)(1) for entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds. He faces up to one year of imprisonment, a fine of up to $100,000, payment of restitution, and a term of supervised release of up to one year.

But because he entered the plea agreement voluntarily with federal prosecutors, they are recommending that Hall receive no more than 14 days of confinement, followed by a year of supervised release, 60 hours of community service, $500 in restitution, and a $25 special assessment. A final sentencing date has not been set.

US Attorney Matthew Graves said that a reduced sentence for Hall was warranted because of history of mental illness and substance abuse, and the decade-long record of progress he had made in dealing with those issues. Still, the sentence proposed in his case is consistent with that of others who have pled guilty to similar circumstances.