Prosecutors seek 15-year sentence for armed Capitol rioter

Federal prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for a Texas man who was convicted of storming the US Capitol with a holstered handgun, calling him a member of a militia who played a central role in the attack on the pro-Trump mob, a court has heard. filing Friday.

If a judge accepts the Justice Department’s recommendation, Guy Wesley Reffitt’s jail term would be nearly three times the length of the longest sentence among more than 200 defendants who have been convicted of riot-related crimes from January 6, 2021 in the nation’s capital. .

The longest sentence to date is five years and three months for Robert Palmer, a Florida man who pleaded guilty to attacking police officers at the Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich is due to sentence Reffitt on August 1. The judge is not bound by any of the sentencing recommendations or guidelines calculated by the court’s probation service, which provide for a sentence ranging from nine years to 11 years and three months.

Defense attorney Clinton Broden, who is asking that Reffitt be given a maximum sentence of two years in prison, said he was shocked by the prosecutors’ recommendation. He noted that Reffitt was not charged with entering the Capitol or assaulting police officers that day.

“It’s absolutely absurd,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. “I certainly don’t condone what Mr. Reffitt did. And I think everyone realizes the seriousness of crimes. But at the same point, there has to be some proportionality here.

Prosecutors argue that a “start to the top for terrorism” is warranted in Reffitt’s case, which would result in a much longer sentence if the judge agrees to enforce it. They say trial evidence showed that Reffitt planned for weeks before January to travel to Washington, D.C., “with the specific intent of attacking the Capitol and seizing control of Congress.”

“Reffitt did not intend to simply obstruct Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote. Instead, Reffitt intended to physically remove lawmakers from the building (using his gun and flexible handcuffs, and the power of the crowd) and in effect ‘take control’ of Congress,” he said. writes Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler.

Reffitt, the first Capitol riot defendant to stand trial, was found guilty by a jury in March of all five counts in his indictment. Jurors found him guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote, interfering with police officers guarding the Capitol, and threatening his two teenage boys if they reported him to the forces. of the order.

Prosecutors say Reffitt was the leader of a Texas militia. He told other 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,” Nestler wrote.

Reffitt, a resident of Wylie, Texas, did not testify at his trial.

During closing arguments in the trial, U.S. attorney Risa Berkower told jurors Reffitt proudly “lit the fire” that allowed other members of a mob to run over Capitol police officers near the Senate doors. .

Jurors saw video that captured the confrontation between a few 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 walked up to police, according to prosecutors. 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.

Reffitt traveled to Washington, D.C. with Rocky Hardie, who said he and Reffitt were members of the Texas Three Percenters Militia. The Three Percenters militia movement refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.

Hardie testified that they were both armed with holstered handguns when they attended President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the riot. Hardie said Reffitt talked about getting lawmakers out of the Capitol and replacing them with people who would “follow the Constitution.” Hardie also said Reffitt gave him two pairs of zippered handcuffs in case they needed to restrain someone.

Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, testified that his father threatened him and his then 16-year-old sister after he drove home from Washington. Reffitt told his children they would be traitors if they reported him to the authorities and said “traitors get shot,” Jackson Reffitt recalled.

Reffitt is “done with politics,” his attorney said in a court filing on Friday.

“His sole focus now is to reunite his family while acknowledging that while he has spent the last two decades providing for them, he is the one who separated them,” Broden wrote.

More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. Over 330 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 200 of them have been sentenced. More than 100 others have trial dates.


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