A member of the far-right Three Percenters militia was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol Building – the longest sentence yet for any of the insurrectionists.
Guy Reffitt, 49, of Wylie, Texas, was convicted by a jury in March of five felony charges, including bringing a gun onto the Capitol grounds and obstructing an official proceeding.
He had threatened to harm his own children if they ratted him out to the FBI.
Federal guidelines recommend a prison sentence of 9 to 11.25 years for those crimes, prosecutors say.
Reffitt never entered the Capitol, but video evidence showed him egging on the crowd and leading other rioters up a set of stairs outside the building.
Guy Reffitt (pictured at the Capitol), 48, of Texas, who was arrested in connection to the riot at the Capitol earlier this month, allegedly threatened to shoot his children if they became ‘traitors’ and turned him in to the FBI
Jackson Reffitt, pictured, alerted the FBI to his dad’s alleged role in the Capitol riots
Guy Reffitt’s wife, Nicole (C), with her daughters Sara (L), and Peyton (R), depart the federal court house in Washington, DC, on Monday after husband’s conviction
His emotionally charged trial included testimony from his estranged son Jackson, who brought his father to tears as he told the jury about how his father threatened him if he dared to call the FBI.
‘He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,” Jackson Reffitt told jurors. ”And traitors get shot.”
The son told The New York Times that he felt bad for turning his father in, but he doesn’t regret it.
‘I would say I’m sorry, because I don’t feel like I put him in this situation, but I still feel guilty. I would do it again,’ Jackson told the paper.
The insurrectionist’s wife Nicole Reffitt said that she didn’t think her husband would act on his statements, but said that the family was ‘disturbed’ by the comments.
Reffitt was the first Capitol rioter to go to trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
To date, federal prosecutors have prevailed and won convictions in all but one of 13 trials tied to the Capitol attack.
Reffitt’s (far right) trial was seen as an important test case as the U.S. Justice Department attempts to secure convictions from the hundreds of defendants who have not taken plea deals
Reffitt’s lawyer, William Welch (pictured along Reffit in a courtroom sketch dated February 28, 2022) told jurors during opening statements that his client was one for dramatics: ‘He exaggerates and he rants. This trial will be about fact versus hype’
Reffitt’s wife told officials that Reffitt (pictured in blue with a helmet at the Capitol) was arguing about the incident with his son and daughter when he told them: ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors. … Traitors get shot’
Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds on January 6
Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police, during a rally to contest the certification of presidential election results by on January 6
Federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to sentence Reffitt to 15 years, more than the U.S. sentencing guidelines recommend, citing Reffitt’s crime as being ‘calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion.’
But on Monday, as the sentencing stretched into its fifth hour, the judge rejected the federal prosecutors’ arguments.
‘There are a lot of cases where defendants possessed weapons or committed very violent assaults,’ Politico reported the judge saying. Friedrich noted that the harshest sentences so far have been for little more than five years.
‘The government is asking for a sentence that is three times as long as any other defendant and the defendant did not assault an officer,’ according to Politico’s coverage.
Reffitt’s attorney has sought to portray him as man who felt marginalized and down on his luck after losing his job in 2019.
Depressed and suicidal, his attorney said he turned to political news on social media and became a fervent believer in former President Donald Trump.
His daughter Peyton told the court in a letter she could see 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.’
His attorney F. Clinton Broden said that while his client broke the law, his actions were not as egregious as those of others who entered the Capitol and assaulted police.
He noted that Reffitt will get credit for the 19 months he has already spent behind bars since his arrest, and has asked the judge to impose a sentence of no more than two years.