On Monday, a member of the far-right Three Percenters militia might be sentenced to more than a decade in jail for participating in a disturbance at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, while armed and threatening to hurt his own children if they told the FBI.
Guy Reffitt of Wylie, Texas, was convicted by a jury in March on five felony offenses, including bringing a gun onto Capitol grounds and impeding an official procedure.
Federal guidelines dictate a prison sentence of 7.25 to 9 years for those crimes, according to U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Monday.
Reffitt, who was 49 at the time of his conviction, never entered the Capitol, but video evidence showed him cheering on the crowd and directing other rioters up a set of stairs outside the structure.
He appeared in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, dressed in an orange jumpsuit.
His emotionally packed trial included testimony from his estranged son Jackson, who moved his father to tears as he told the jury about how his father threatened him if he tried to call the FBI.
“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,'” Jackson Reffitt testified. “‘And traitors get shot.'”
Reffitt was the first Capitol rioter to stand trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
To date, federal prosecutors have prevailed and gained convictions in all but one of the 13 trials related to the Capitol attack.
Federal prosecutors asked Friedrich to sentence Reffitt to 15 years in prison, which is more than the U.S. sentencing guidelines indicate, and they also sought a terrorism enhancement for the first time for a Jan. 6 defendant.
“The defendant was trying to overtake Congress. He desired to sit in the chair of Congress “According to federal prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler.
Former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shauni Kerkhoff read from a statement in court, claiming that Reffitt “led this group up the stairs towards members of Congress. … He intended to harm members of Congress.”
She stated she “watched in horror as he encouraged the angry mob to push past.”
“These are acts of domestic terrorism,” Kerkhoff stated. “I recommend the defendant receive the maximum sentence.”
Friedrich agreed that Reffitt “should be sentenced more severely” than other similarly situated prisoners, but she denied a number of the government’s demands to increase the sentence, including the terrorist enhancement.
She read aloud from previous Jan. 6 instances, including some involving police assault, and stated that “in none of those cases did the government seek any of these departures” adding that she does not want to create a “unwarranted sentencing disparity.”
Reffitt’s attorney has attempted to depict him as a man who felt isolated and down on his luck after losing his job in 2019.
Depressed and despondent, his counsel claims he resorted to political news on social media and became a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump.
Jackson Reffitt stated in a letter to the court that he believed his father had “lost himself.”
He stated, “I hope to see my father use all the safety nets” offered in prison, including mental health care.
In a statement to the court, his daughter Peyton described how her father’s ego and personality “fell to his knees when President Trump spoke.”
“You could tell he listened to Trump’s words as if he was really truly speaking to him … Constantly feeding polarizing racial thought,” Peyton wrote.
His attorney, F. Clinton Broden, stated that while his client disobeyed the law, his conduct were not as serious as those of others who invaded the Capitol and assaulted police.
He emphasized that Reffitt will be given credit for the 19 months he has already served in prison since his arrest, and he has requested the judge to impose a sentence of no more than two years.