Background: Matthew Perna was 37 and from Pennsylvania. He graduated at the top of his class at Penn State University and traveled to Thailand and South Korea, teaching children how to speak English. He had no criminal record.
On January 6: Perna walked through an open door on the Senate side of the Capitol. He was only there for 20 minutes. Perna was nonviolent; had no weapon, didn't assault anyone, and didn't vandalize property.
The political prosecution: Instead of charging him with mere trespassing, the prosecutor in charge of the January 6 Capitol riot compared the defendants to “domestic terrorists” and urged the judge to punish them in deterrence. Perna, one of the 786 people that were arrested in connection to the riot, was expecting multiple years in prison.
No way out: His hometown shunned him, and his family no longer felt safe going out in public. Expecting a lengthy prison sentence for a twenty-minute decision, he saw no way out. For those reasons, he took his own life on February 25, 2022. He was set to appear for sentencing on April 1 in the U.S. District Court District of Columbia.
“Matthew Perna was failed by the country he loved, demonized by the news media, tormented by the world's most powerful law enforcement, ignored by political leaders of both parties, and betrayed by a federal judge sworn to defend justice not appease the whims of a vengeful regime. They all have blood on their hands now.” - Julie Kelly