A Memphis business owner who texted his wife days after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol that all elected officials were “going to be executed” was found guilty Thursday of one felony and four misdemeanors related to the riot.
After a Washington DC-based jury found Olive Branch resident Matthew Bledsoe guilty, his sentencing was set for Oct. 21.
Bledsoe, 38, was convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a restricted building and in a Capitol building, and demonstrating in a Capitol building.
Bledsoe pleaded not guilty to all the charges and rejected a plea deal from the US government on Jan. 31.
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In early hearings, the bulk of the evidence against Bledsoe came from his own social media accounts, including his deleted Instagram account.
Bledsoe filmed himself entering the grounds of the Capitol on the day of the riot and posted images of himself on Capitol grounds mid-riot, as did many other rioters did during the attempt to violently overturn the 2020 presidential election result.
Additionally, prosecutors presented a text conversation between him and his wife where he replied “good” after she alerted him of a bomb threat near the Capitol building.
One particular text drew the ire of DC District Judge Beryl Howell, during a preliminary hearing; Bledsoe texted his wife from him on Jan. 10 and said he believed elected officials would soon be dead.
“They’re all going to be executed,” Bledsoe said in the text.
The judge said she weighed the severity of texts Bledsoe sent to his wife against the defense’s request to have the conditions of his bail modified.
“I take that very seriously,” the judge said, referring to the texts.
Bledsoe’s lawyer attempted to rationalize his texts regarding the execution of public officials by explaining to Howell that he was a firm believer in the fringe conspiracy theories put forth by Q-Anon. The judge was not reassured by Smith’s attempts to cast Bledsoe’s beliefs as non-threatening.
In spite of Howell’s initial reactions to Bledsoe, he was able to gain approval from the court to modify the conditions of his release.
Bledsoe was required to stay in the Western federal district of Tennessee, but on several occasions, he was allowed to travel to other states for what he said were work-related trips for his moving company, Prime Time Movers.
Bledsoe remains released with an ankle monitor on his own personal recognition pending sentencing, according to court records.
Dima Amro covers the suburbs for The Commercial Appeal and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmroDima.
Micaela Watts, Access and Equity reporter for The Commercial Appeal, contributed to this report. She can be reached at [email protected]
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism