A Wake Forest man who claimed to be acting as a journalist and entered the U.S. Capitol with rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, has been found guilty of four felonies by a jury in federal court.
Stephen Horn, who was 23 at the time, says he hid among the protesters to accurately record those who stormed the Capitol. A jury decided Monday that he did not have the same rights as accredited journalists and was instead a rebel, the Washington Post reported.
Horn is one of at least 34 North Carolinians charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol. This protest-turned-riot left five people dead and about 140 officers injured, The Charlotte Observer previously reported
A 12-person jury found Horn guilty of: entering or remaining in a prohibited building; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a confined building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and marching, demonstrating or picketing the Capitol, according to court documents.
The Observer reached out to Horn for comment but did not receive a response.
After the riots, Horn posted on Facebook: “I was in Washington today when the Capitol was stormed.”
“I did not enter the Capitol as part of the protest or for cheap thrills, but to accurately document and record a significant event that was happening,” Horn wrote two years ago.
After the verdict Tuesday, Horn reshared his Jan. 7 Facebook post and said, “I told the jury the same truth that I posted with my video.”
The FBI used this post along with a newspaper photo and video footage of Horn when prosecutors filed charges against him in federal court in March of that year, according to a statement signed by an FBI agent in Horn court records.
During the riot, Horn climbed a statue, joined protesters in a chant of “USA” and entered then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, according to court documents.
Horn is one of about 1,070 people who have been arrested in connection with the riot, the Observer previously reported.
Riot in the Capitol
Just five days after the insurrection, someone who knew Horn notified the FBI that a photo appearing in the New York Times Magazine depicted him inside the U.S. Capitol during the riots, according to court documents accessed through CourtListener, a non-profit database maintained by Free Law. Project.
This person, who is not identified in court documents, told the FBI that he believed Horn was at the Capitol as a journalist, but said he was unaware of his possession of media credentials.
The photo shows Horn standing on a statue of Abraham Lincoln and using his cellphone to record those around him.
Horn participated in voluntary interviews with the FBI before authorities charged him with trespassing at the Capitol.
After January 6, Horn released nearly two hours of footage documenting the event from his perspective. Both the prosecution and his defense used this footage in court during the two-day trial.
Horn later used the footage to create a documentary titled “79 Minutes: the Breach of the Capitol.” The documentary “analyzes the time period and series of events between the initial violence at the edge of the Capitol and the breach of the Capitol nearly an hour later,” Horn said in a post to X.
Horn’s attorney argued that on the day of the attack, Horn was acting as an independent journalist and notes that Horn did not destroy property or behave as other rioters did, according to the Post’s coverage of the trial. Prosecutors argued that Horn did not behave like a journalist and knowingly trespassed with a violent crowd.
“His journalism began when he needed an excuse for his criminal liability,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashely Akers said, according to the Washington Post.
Horn’s sentencing hearing is set for January, and under federal law he could face up to a year in prison on a charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building.
The investigation into the January 6 insurrection is ongoing, and anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.