First Capitol rioter to stand trial gets 7 years, longest sentence for a Jan. 6 defendant so far

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

Guy Wesley Refitt, 49, of Wylie, Texas, He was sentenced by a federal jury in March on five felony counts, including obstruction of justice, as well as entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm.

Federal prosecutors from the US Department of Justice had called for Reffitt to be sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors had also asked, for the first time, a federal district court judge to apply a terrorism enhancement, which would effectively define under the law that a troublemaker’s actions amounted to domestic terrorism.

“We believe what he was doing that day was domestic terrorism and we believe he is a domestic terrorism,” Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said Monday.

But the judge overseeing Refitt’s case, Dabney Friedrich, denied the request, saying there have been many other defendants in the Jan. 6 attack in whom the Justice Department decided not to proceed with the enhancement of terrorism, despite that his behavior seemed to be much more serious and threatening. of which Reffitt was convicted at trial.

Reffitt’s attorney, Clinton Broden, argued that the DOJ was unfairly seeking to make an example of Reffitt simply because he took his case to trial.

“This is the only case where the government has called for enhancement of terrorism, and this is the only case where the defendant has gone to trial,” Broden said. “I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.”

Reffitt is among the more than 850 people who have been charged in connection with the deadly gap of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, which interrupted a joint session of Congress called to determine and count electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election. More than 200 defendants have already pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes misdemeanors and felonies, and some have been sentenced to years in federal prison.

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

“It’s absolutely absurd,” Broden he told the Associated Press during a phone interview last month. “I certainly don’t approve of what Mr. Reffitt did. And I think everyone realizes the seriousness of the offenses. But at the same time, there has to be some proportionality here.”

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

During the trial, prosecutors tried to portray Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenters militia group in Texas, as the ringleader of one of the first mob waves to storm the Capitol from the west side of the building.

Videos played in court showed Reffitt climbing a stone railing near where scaffolding had been placed before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and Reffitt confronting US Capitol police officers who they warned him to back off before they fired less-lethal ammunition and pepper spray. to stop his progress. Other videos filed in court showed Reffitt gesturing to the crowd behind him in what appeared to be an attempt to get them to climb the stairs to the multiple entrances that lead to the building.

At one point in the trial, prosecutors played first-person footage that Reffitt had recorded with a 360-degree camera mounted on his helmet while he was in the crowd at the “Save America” ​​rally before the attack.

“We will take the Capitol before the day is out,” Reffitt says in the video. “Everyone is in the same harmony on that… dragging them around kicking and screaming.”

“I didn’t come here to play…I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every fucking step on the way out,” he says later. “I think we have the numbers to make it happen … without firing a single shot.”

The DOJ case also relied on two key witnesses: Rocky Hardie, a former member of the Texas Three Percenters, who testified against Reffitt in exchange for immunity for cooperating, and Reffitt’s 19-year-old son Jackson, who sent a online track. to the FBI first alerting them to their father’s plans weeks before the riot, which ultimately led to Reffitt’s arrest on January 16, 2021.

During an interview with ABC News from jail last December, Reffitt said he “never expected anything like this to happen.”

“This has been disastrous for me and my familyespecially for my daughters, my son, actually my whole family,” Reffitt told ABC News.

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