First Capitol rioter to face trial for 7 years, longest sentence for a defendant on Jan. 6 thus far

A federal judge on Monday sentenced the first Capitol rioter convicted at trial up to 87 months, or just over seven years in prison — the longest prison term to date for a defendant in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the January 6 attack on Congress.

Guy Wesley Reffitt, 49 years old, of Wylie, Texas, Sentenced by a federal grand jury in March on five felony counts, including obstruction of justice as well as entering and remaining in a restricted building or property with a firearm.

Federal prosecutors with the US Department of Justice asked that Reffitt be sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors also – for the first time – asked a federal district court judge to impose an enhanced counter-terrorism measure, which would effectively determine under the law that a rioter’s actions could be considered a crime. domestic terrorism.

“We believe what he did that day was domestic terrorism, and we believe he is a domestic terrorist,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said Monday.

But the judge overseeing Reffitt’s case, Dabney Friedrich, denied the request, saying there were many other defendants from the January 6 attacks, where the DOJ chose not to pursue increased terrorism, despite the conduct. Their behavior seems much more serious and threatening. than what Reffitt was found guilty of at trial.

Reffitt’s attorney, Clinton Broden, argued that the DOJ had unfairly sought to set an example for Reffitt simply because he had brought his case to trial.

“This is the only case where the government has asked for increased counterterrorism, and this is the only case where the defendant has been brought to trial,” Broden said. “I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure that out.”

Refitt is among the more than 850 people who has been charged in relation to fatal transgression of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, which interrupted a joint session of Congress convened to determine and count the electoral votes involved in the 2020 presidential election. defendants have pleaded guilty to a variety of misdemeanors and felonies, with some being sentenced to years in federal prison.

Reffitt’s attorney, Clinton Broden, requested that his client be sentenced to no more than two years. He said he was shocked by the prosecution’s recommendation, as his client was not charged with entering the Capitol or assaulting any police officers that day.

“It’s completely absurd,” Broden told the Associated Press in a phone interview last month. “I certainly don’t condone what Mr. Reffitt did. And I think everyone realizes the seriousness of the offense. But in common, there has to be some proportion.”

Federal sentencing guidelines in Reffitt’s case call for prison sentences ranging from nine years to 11 years and three months.

During the trial, prosecutors sought to select Reffitt, a member of the Texas Three Percenters militia, as conductor of one of the first waves of mobs to break into the Capitol from the west side of the court. home.

Video played in court showed Reffitt climbing a stone railing near where scaffolding had been erected before the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Reffitt confronting US Congressional Police officers who had warned him to back off before they fired ammunition and pepper spray. to stop his advance. Other videos presented in court showed Reffitt gesturing to the crowd behind him as an attempt to get them to move up the stairs toward the multiple entrances leading into the building.

At one point of the trial, prosecutors played first-person footage that Reffitt captured using a 360-degree camera mounted on his helmet while in the crowd at the “Save America” ​​rally. ” before the attack happened.

“We’ll get to the Capitol before the day is out,” Reffitt said in the video. “Everybody’s got into it… dragging them to the rocks and f***ing screaming.”

“I didn’t come here to play games… I just wanted to see Pelosi’s head hit every step of the way out,” he said afterward. “I think we have the numbers to make it happen… without firing a single shot.”

The Justice Department case also relies on two key witnesses: Rocky Hardie, a former Texas Three Percenters member who testified against Reffitt in exchange for partnership immunity, and Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson. , who sent an online tip to the FBI first warn them about his father’s plan weeks before the riot, which eventually resulted in Reffitt’s arrest on January 16, 2021.

In an interview with ABC News after serving time in prison last December, Reffitt said he “never expected anything like this to happen.”

“This is already harmful to me and my familyespecially for my girls, my son – really all my family,” Reffitt told ABC News

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