January 28, 2022

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Franklin County woman admits role in Capitol riot – STLtoday.com

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A woman from Sullivan pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge in Washington Monday and admitted entering the Capitol and taking signs during the Capitol insurrection.

Emily E. Hernandez, 22, will now also be subject to a range of new restrictions on her behavior after her involvement in a Jan. 5 accident in which the Missouri Highway Patrol said she was drunk and driving the wrong way on Interstate 44 when she hit and killed a woman.

In a court hearing held by video, Hernandez pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building.

She admitted traveling to Washington with her uncle, William “Bill” Merry and his friend, Paul Scott Westover, of Lake Saint Louis. While there, they attended a “Stop the Steal” rally that pushed false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

Emily Hernandez

An image, purportedly of Emily Hernandez, taken from federal charging documents.

The three then crossed through police barricades that had been breached by others and entered the Capitol about 2:20 p.m., Hernandez admitted. While in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suite of offices, Hernandez took a piece of a broken sign bearing Pelosi’s name.

Hernandez later took a large red “Keep Off Fence” sign and a smaller “Please Do Not Touch” sign. The three left through a broken window in the building.

A smiling, flag-wrapped Hernandez was later photographed with the Pelosi sign outside the Capitol. Hernandez and her companions left at 2:55 p.m. and drove overnight to return to the St. Louis area.

After she was charged, Hernandez told Bill McClellan of the Post-Dispatch that she is not interested in politics and simply accepted the invitation to accompany her uncle and his friend to Washington.

Merry and Westover have also pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, Merry to theft of government property and Westover to demonstrating in the Capitol.

The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor is a year in jail, although recommended guidelines call for six months or less. At her sentencing in March, Hernandez also will have to pay $500 toward repairing damage to the Capitol.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg on Monday agreed with prosecutors and pre-trial services officers, who recommended mental health evaluation and treatment and drug and alcohol testing and treatment. Hernandez is banned from driving, drinking and possessing firearms. She also has to turn over her passport.

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The new restrictions follow a crash Wednesday night in Franklin County.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said Hernandez was driving west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 44 just after 7 p.m. in a 2014 Volkswagen Passat when she hit a 2019 Buick Enclave driven by Ryan E. Wilson, 36, of St. Clair. Ryan Wilson was seriously injured. Wilson’s wife, Victoria N. Wilson, 32, was killed.

Victoria Wilson

Victoria Wilson, killed by a wrong-way driver in Franklin County on Jan. 5, 2021.

Hernandez was issued a citation Wednesday night at the hospital for two felonies: driving while intoxicated resulting in death and driving while intoxicated resulting in injury. Troopers have said they will seek charges from the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.

Ethan Corlija, one of Hernandez’s lawyers, said Monday that no charges have been filed. He said officials may also seek to revoke her license.

Hernandez needed surgery to close a head wound, Corlija said last week. He said the crash was “not intentional.”

Victoria Wilson was the mother of two boys, ages 15 and 10. She was a home health care aide who worked primarily with people with disabilities.

The couple was heading home from an early anniversary celebration when Victoria Wilson died. In an interview last week, Victoria Wilson’s mother, Tonie Donaldson, blasted the fact that Hernandez had been out of jail at the time of the crash.

“With what she did to the government, why is she still walking the street?” she asked.

Donaldson said the family has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover funeral expenses.

Hernandez, who was scheduled to plead guilty Monday for her role in the riots, has been arrested on suspicion of DWI for the fatal wreck Wednesday.

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