WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – The youngest North Carolinian to have been indicted for his role in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty Thursday to one of nine charges he had faced.
Aiden Bilyard, 20, of Cary entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon, a release from the U.S. Department of Justice stated.
He is the latest of at least 24 residents of North Carolina who were arrested and indicted for their activities during the violent uprising on Jan. 6, 2021. Bilyard originally had been charged on nine counts (five of them felonies):
- Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury.
- Civil disorder and aiding and abetting.
- Destruction of government property.
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
- Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
- Disorderly conduct in the Capitol grounds or buildings.
- Act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.
Bilyard had been arrested on Nov. 22 and then indicted on Jan. 26 after investigators identified him in photographs from the insurrection by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were attempting to disrupt congressional approval of the election of Joe Biden.
An affidavit filed with the court said that Bilyard was identified in footage from a body-worn camera worn by a DC Metropolitan Police Officer. The testimony sworn by an officer who was not named said Bilyard was seen spraying the officer with what later was identified as “bear spray,” which is considered a dangerous weapon.
Bilyard could face 46 to 57 months in prison, and he could be fined between $20,000 and $200,000, based on the agreement filed by the DOJ. He also could be ordered to pay restitution.
U.S. Senior District Judge Reggie Walton denied a request by his attorneys to allow him to be free until his sentencing hearing on Feb. 2, The News & Observer reported.
Bilyard “had the right to protest,” Walton said in his closing remarks at the hearing. “But to see this kind of violence, police fighting for their lives … yet you don’t get to the mindset at some point that ‘This is wrong, and I’ve got to stop’? It is just something that is chilling and beyond the pale.”
There are six residents of the Piedmont Triad among those in North Carolina who are part of the nearly 900 people in 48 states who have been charged with crimes during the insurrection, based on a database maintained by USA TODAY. More than 400 have been sentenced, including some 129 to prison terms.
There were hundreds of injuries to law enforcement officers, much destruction of property, threats on the life of Vice President Mike Pence and others and, ultimately, seven lives were lost during or after the insurrection. There also have been all those legal proceedings.
A House Select Committee continues to investigate the cause of the uprising and the actions by Trump and his allies in that event.