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Guy Reffitt sentenced to more than 7 years in prison in the January 6 attack on the Capitol


The first defendant in the US Capitol riot convicted at trial was sentenced to more than seven years in prison on Monday, the longest sentence handed down to date in the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress. .

Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Texas Three Percenters movement, was convicted on March 8 of five felony charges, including obstructing Congress at its meeting to certify the 2020 election results, interfering with police and carrying a gun during a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who reported him to the FBI. Prosecutors said Reffitt led a mob while armed on Capitol Hill and asked a judge to sentence him to 15 years after serving a terrorism conviction.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich condemned Reffitt’s conduct by handing down an 87-month sentence, telling a five-hour hearing that his views espousing political violence were “absurd”, “delusional” and “well outside the mainstream”.

“He’s in a class of his own as far as I know in terms of what he was doing there that day and what he claimed to be doing for what he was there,” Friedrich said.

Reffitt proclaimed himself a “patriot” and a “martyr” in prison rants, the judge noted. She said he sought to legitimize efforts by himself and others to foment rebellion against so-called government tyranny, “believing that he would forcibly suppress the legislatures and install a new government which will be approved by the judges and the Constitution”.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing. And to this day he has not disavowed those comments,” Friedrich said.

The judge said that in a democracy, people vote according to their conscience in a voting booth, not by violence.

The defense for Reffitt, a 49-year-old former oil rig manager, requested a less than guideline sentence of two years in prison. Attorney F. Clinton Broden said his client did not commit any violence and had no criminal history, but prosecutors asked for far more time for him than for defendants who pleaded guilty to having assaulted the police, accusing the government of retaliation against Reffitt for being put on trial.

Citing terrorism, US seeks 15-year prison sentence in Jan. 6 case

“It mocks the criminal justice system, the Sixth Amendment right to a trial, and the victims assaulted by [others] to argue that Mr Reffitt should be given a heavier sentence than “the others”, Broden told the court. “I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out why they’re looking for improvement in this case.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower said Reffitt’s conduct was exceptional.

Reffitt “played a pivotal role” leading a vigilante mob that defied and swarmed police at a key choke point, a staircase leading to the lower west terrace, before the first window breach near doors to the Senate wing of the Capitol at 2:1 p.m., prosecutors said. After the riot, Reffitt warned his 16-year-old son and daughter that “if you turn me in, you’re a traitor, and traitors get shot,” his son said at trial.

Conventional sentencing rules are “inadequate in scope” to account for Reffitt’s range of obstruction, witness tampering and weapons offences, prosecutors wrote in a 58-page memo on the penalty.

“We believe what he was doing that day was terrorism. We believe he is a domestic terrorist,” Nestler said.

“Reffitt sought not only to shut down Congress, but also to physically attack, remove and replace lawmakers who served in Congress,” prosecutors wrote.

They called his conduct “a quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion” and said it reflected the legal definition of violence terrorist who is liable to more severe penalties.

Reffitt checked in at a rally led by President Donald Trump at the Ellipse saying he was ready to coach lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy A. Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) kicking and shouting,” with “his [Pelosi’s] the head hitting each step on the way down.

A jury found that Reffitt traveled to DC from his home in Wylie, Texas with an AR rifle and a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and repeatedly stated his intention to come armed a handgun and plastic handcuffs to get lawmakers out of the building. After returning from Washington, he threatened his children to make sure they wouldn’t report him to the authorities.

However, Friedrich declined to apply the discretionary sentence enhancement for terrorism, agreeing with the defense that prosecutors had not asked judges to do so for other defendants who, like Reffitt, had made statements ” extremely disturbing”, but who, unlike him, had committed violence.

Still, the judge said Reffitt took on a “self-proclaimed leadership role” outside the Capitol, cheering and waving to a crowd behind him as he confronted police while carrying a handgun and a megaphone. Reffitt also wore a bulletproof vest, helmet and flexible plastic cuffs, Friedrich said.

Friedrich said the fact that Reffitt was armed made his case “very different from any others prosecuted to date,” increasing the risk of serious injury to police “who bravely defended the Capitol, as well as everyone else.” present that day”.

“Patriots honor and respect the rule of law,” the judge added, scolding Reffitt. “There are a lot of people who think democracy doesn’t work for them. There are unfortunately many in the United States right now who think that way. But in a democracy, the answer to this frustration is not rebellion.

The request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in DC, which oversees the prosecution of approximately 840 Capitol Headquarters defendants indicted by the federal government so far, was not binding on Friedrich, who went below the recommendation of the prosecutors in 22 of 24 convictions from January 6 to date.

The longest sentence so far in a January 6 case was 63 months, given to a Florida man who pleaded guilty to attacking police with a fire extinguisher and a wooden plank and a DC who assaulted three officers and smashed a riot shield with a pole.

By comparison, Friedrich has so far only sentenced three defendants who have pleaded guilty to crimes, the longest at 27 months in prison, also for attacking the police.

Reffitt’s sentence for Friedrich fell to the bottom of the 87-to-108-month jail term under federal advisory guidelines for his conduct, the judge said.

Prosecutors still hoped his final judgment would be send a clear signal to the approximately 330 defendants who are still awaiting felony trials and who may still be considering accepting a plea deal or playing in front of a jury. About 70 people pleaded guilty and nine, including Reffitt, were convicted at trial.

Rage met by revulsion – first trial on January 6 shows family and nation torn apart by Trump

Reffitt left home at 15, moved in with his older sister and started working as a KFC dishwasher after enduring years of physical abuse at the hands of his father, Broden wrote in defense of his client. After becoming a father himself, Broden said, Reffitt was devoted to his children and creating safe spaces for others.

Reffitt, his lawyer said, was a self-made man who took his family overseas while working in places like Malaysia in charge of operations worth tens of millions of dollars, but was devastated financially and emotionally after a downturn in the oil and gas industry. . He lost his job in November 2019, just months before the pandemic hit the United States.

Reffitt’s daughters noticed that “his sanity declined” during this time, Broden wrote. Reffitt fell “down the rabbit hole of political news and online banter,” wrote one of his daughters, and he fell into the thrall of Donald Trump “constantly fueling polarizing racial thinking.”

“I could really see how my father[’]The ego and personality of his ego fell to his knees when President Trump spoke, you could tell he was listening to Trump’s words like he was really really talking to him,” one of Reffitt’s daughters wrote. to the judge asking for clemency.

In a rambling personal statement before the judge, Reffitt apologized to the three officers he confronted, the court, lawmakers, congressional staff and everyone affected by his actions.

“I really hate what I did,” Reffitt said. “In 2020, I was a bit crazy…I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

Reffitt said that in the future he “will have nothing to do with politics”.

Friedrich said she hoped Reffitt meant what he said, but warned he would remain under judicial supervision for three years after completing his prison sentence if he engaged in future criminal behavior.

Reffitt started a security business and joined the Three Percenters in Texas. The right-wing anti-government group takes its name from the myth that only 3% of the colonists fought in the American Revolution against the British.

In a letter to the judge, Reffitt described a series of family traumas since 2020, including medical and mental health emergencies, and pleaded for clemency for the sake of his family.

“My regrets for what happened are insurmountable. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret how much it affected [my wife and children],” Refitt wrote. “Yes, what is happening to my family is completely my fault, I would like to fix it please. … I am just asking for a chance to prove myself again.

In a letter to the court read by prosecutors, Reffitt’s son, Jackson Reffitt, said he supports prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation, as long as his father can receive rehabilitation and counseling in prison.

But one of his daughters asked the judge for clemency, saying Trump, not her father, was ultimately responsible for what happened on Jan. 6.

“My father’s name was not on the flags that everyone was carrying there that day… There was another man’s name,” Peyton Reffitt added in person in court on Monday. , “He was not the leader.”

One of the Capitol Police officers who confronted the accused, Shauni Kerkhof, said Reffitt “intended to harm members of Congress and prevent the certification of the election crowd” after pushing past officers who “were sworn to protect Congress and the American people.”

Kerkhof said Reffitt’s writings justifying her actions made her “sick”.

“His actions were not the actions of a patriot. These were actions of a domestic terrorist. He intended to harm his fellow Americans and our democratic processes himself. He was a man who threatened his own children if they reported him,” Kerkhof told the court.


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