Washington – A federal judge on Monday sentenced Guy Reffitt, of Texansfor bringing a handgun to the Capitol during the January 6 attacks, to 87 months in prison, the longest sentence to date related to the 2021 attack.
A member of the far-right militia group Texas Three Percenters, Reffitt is the first defendant to appear in court on charges stemming from the attack. He wasof five counts, including obstructing Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
The 7.25-year sentence is much shorter than the 15 years given by prosecutors, who say the punishment should be harsher because Reffitt’s actions posed a terrorist threat. At Monday’s sentencing hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., Judge Dabney Friedrich disagreed, citing other cases that occurred on January 6 in which prosecutors did not seek reinforcement. so.
However, the sentence is the longest given to a defendant on January 6 to date. Two other defendants received 63-month sentences earlier this year for their roles in the assault. Reffitt’s defense team urged the judge to sentence him to no more than two years in prison.
Reffitt will also be placed on probation for three years after his release and must pay a $2,000 fine.
Speaking in court during Monday’s hearing, Reffitt admitted he acted like an “idiot” on January 6 and said he regretted his actions, apologizing to Congress and the officer he encountered that day.
“I was a little too crazy,” he told a skeptical Friedrich. “I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
The judge said it was difficult not to see the apology as anything but “apathy”, especially given some of the conspiracy statements he had made about the events of January 6. since his arrest.
“What he and the others who attacked the Capitol on January 6 did is a betrayal of patriotism,” the judge said before sentencing.
In seeking a longer sentence, prosecutors said in court filings that Reffitt acted as the center of a crowd on January 6 and intended to “use a gun and policeman-style maneuvers.” to force legislators out of the building and take over the Conference.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told Friedrich that Reffitt “acclaimed himself” as the leader of the mob, beckoning the rest of the rioters as he confronted police on the western front of the Capitol. .
“He doesn’t just want President Trump to stay in power,” Nestler said. “He wants to physically and literally remove Congress.”
Prosecutors allege that January 6 was “the beginning” for Reffitt. “He wants the rest of his militia to start taking over state capitals around the country,” Nestler said.
Former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shauni Kerkhoff, who confronted Reffitt outside the Capitol on January 6, pleaded with the judge to give Reffitt the maximum sentence possible under the law.
“His actions were not patriotic. It was an act of domestic terrorism,” Kerkhoff said.
Prosecutors said Reffitt also threatened his children when they wanted to report him to authorities.
At the trial, Reffitt’s 19-year-old son is Jackson – whofor law enforcement – told the jury he learned of his father’s membership in the crowd when he saw his mother and sister watching the news about the events of the day there. Jackson threats his father made against him and his sister, Peyton, when they tried to reject him: “If you refuse me, you will be a traitor, and traitors will be shot .”
In court on Monday, prosecutors read a letter from Jackson to the judge in which he described the “slow, painful story” of his father’s origins into conspiracy theories. He said his father needed mental health care, which Friedrich said she would ask for as part of the sentence.
During the trial, Reffitt’s attorney at the time called no witnesses, and Reffitt did not testify in his own defense.
F. Clinton Broden, Reffitt’s new attorney, disagreed with the prosecutor’s description of his client. He argued in written memos and in court that Reffitt never actually entered the Capitol, never removed the pistol from its holster, and “never gave any indication that it was.” he will really harm his children.”
Peyton, the defendant’s daughter, spoke emotionally in court on Monday in support of her father and explained that his mental health was a real problem.
Wiping away tears, Peyton said, “My father’s name wasn’t on the flag that day, everyone carried it. It was someone else’s name,” referring to former President Donald Trump, who told a crowd of his supporters near the White House before they marched on the Capitol.
Friedrich, the judge, appeared most concerned about Reffitt’s mental health and prospects after his eventual release, at one point asking, “What is this man going to do after he gets out of prison? ”
“It’s really disturbing that he’s constantly persevering with these views that fall outside the mainstream,” she added, “His statements [about attempts to overthrow the government] is wrong.”
Friedrich also took issue with Reffitt’s threats of violence against lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“To this day, he hasn’t denied those comments,” she said.
Since Reffitt was found guilty by a 12-person jury, five more defendants have been found guilty by the jury. Five others were found guilty by judges at the bench trials. One defendant,was acquitted by a judge of several misdemeanors.
Outside court on Monday, before the sentence was imposed, Reffitt’s wife, Nicole, told CBS News she believed prosecutors’ accusation against her husband was a “misrepresentation.” .
“He’s a good man,” she said.
Cristina Corujo contributed to this report.