Texas man sentenced to over 7 years for role in Jan. 6 riot

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A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Texas man to more than seven years in prison for storming the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The sentence for Guy Reffitt, a member of the Texas Three Percenters militia, is the longest imposed to date in hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

FILE: This artist’s sketch depicts Guy Wesley Reffitt, joined by his attorney William Welch, right, in federal court, in Washington, February 28, 2022.
(Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)

Reffitt told his fellow militia members that he planned to drag Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol building by her ankles, “with her head hitting every step on the way down,” according to a court filing.

Reffitt was the first person to stand trial for the January 6, 2021 attack, in which then-President Trump’s supporters interrupted the joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

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His prison term – seven years and three months – is two years longer than the previous longest prison term for a Capitol riot defendant. Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler had asked for 15 years for Reffitt, calling him a domestic terrorist who wanted to physically remove and replace members of Congress.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected prosecutors’ claim that a “start to the top for terrorism” was warranted in Reffitt’s case. It was the first time prosecutors had requested this sentencing enhancement for a Jan. 6 case.

FILE: The House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 hearing at the Cannon House office building on Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.  J

FILE: The House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 hearing at the Cannon House office building on Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC. J
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Friedrich, however, wondered why Reffitt would deserve the terrorism upgrade when many other rioters engaged in violence and made equally disturbing threats.

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On Monday, Reffitt issued an expletive-laden apology to police officers, lawmakers and congressional staffers who were on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

Defense attorney Clinton Broden requested that Reffitt be sentenced to no more than two years in prison. Broden noted that Reffitt did not assault any law enforcement officers or enter the Capitol building.

Videos captured the confrontation between outnumbered Capitol police officers and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, who approached them from the west side of the Capitol.

Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a waist holster, wearing zippered handcuffs and wearing a body armor and helmet fitted with a video camera when he advanced on the officers, prosecutors said. He retreated after an officer sprayed him with pepper spray in the face, but he waved at other rioters who eventually entered the building, prosecutors said.

US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the Ellipse near the White House January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the Ellipse near the White House January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The jury found him guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress, interfering with police outside the Capitol, and threatening his two teenage boys if they reported him to law enforcement. order.

Reffitt’s 19-year-old son Jackson testified that his father told him and his sister, then 16, that they would be traitors if they reported him to authorities and warned them that “traitors get shot”.

Reffitt lived with his wife and children in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He traveled to Washington, DC, with Rocky Hardie, another member of the Texas Three Percenters militia group.

Hardie testified that they were both armed with holstered handguns when they attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the riot. Hardie also said Reffitt gave him two pairs of zippered handcuffs in case they needed to restrain someone.

Reffitt is one of seven Capitol riot defendants to have won a jury trial so far. The jurors convicted them unanimously on all counts in their respective indictments.

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More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. More than 340 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. More than 220 were convicted, nearly half of them to prison terms. About 150 others have trial dates extending into 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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