Two protesters who trespassed onto Fort Benning during the annual SOA Watch event were sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison — the maximum the judge could give.
Father Louis John Vitale, 78, and Michael Omondi, 24, both pleaded no contest before U.S. Magistrate Stephen Hyles.
“You’re probably aware that I have been in this court before,” Vitale told Hyles.
Vitale was convicted in January of crossing onto Fort Benning during the 2009 SOA Watch protest. He received six months in prison for that offense. Vitale made bond after his Saturday arrest, though Omondi was brought into Hyles’ courtroom in handcuffs and a jail uniform. His attorney argued that Omondi came to the protest with no intention of scaling the fence separating Fort Benning from Columbus and that his decision to climb it was made once here.
“With all due respect to my attorney, I came from Los Angeles with the specific intention of climbing that fence,” Omondi told Hyles.
Vitale and Omondi were taken into custody by U.S. marshals after their sentencings.
Two others accused of trespassing onto post — Nancy H. Smith, 78, and Christopher Spicer, 28 — pleaded not guilty. They’re scheduled to return to federal court in January.