WASHINGTON — A Texas man convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol with a holstered handgun helmet and body armor was sentenced on Monday to 87 months — more than seven years — in prison, the longest sentence imposed so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.
Prosecutors said Guy Reffitt told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker 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 go on trial for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump halted the joint session of Congress for certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who presided over Reffitt’s jury trial, also sentenced him to three years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay $2,000 in restitution.
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Justice Department prosecutors suggested a sentence of 15 years for Reffitt. He was already in prison for 19 months. According to them, he was a member a militia group and intended to drag legislators out of the building to overthrow Congress in order to prevent the certification of electoral college votes.
Sentencing guidelines calculated by the court’s probation department called for a sentence ranging from nine years to 11 years and three months. Prosecutors argued that an “upward departure for terrorism” was warranted in Reffitt’s case.
The longest sentence before Reffitt’s was five years and three months, for two men who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers at the Capitol.
Clinton Broden (defense attorney) requested that Reffitt’s sentence be no longer than two years. Broden noted that Reffitt didn’t assault any law enforcement officers or enter the Capitol building.
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Video footage captured Reffitt and outnumbered Capitol officers confronting a crowd of people on the Capitol’s west side.
Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a holster on his waist, carrying zip-tie handcuffs and wearing body armor and a helmet equipped with a video camera when he advanced on the officers, according to prosecutors. After being pepper-sprayed in his face by an officer, Reffitt retreated but waved to other rioters, who eventually broke into the building.
Reffitt didn’t testify at his trial before jurors convicted him in March of all five counts in his indictment. The jury found him guilty of obstructing Congress’ joint session, of interfering with police officers outside the Capitol and of threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement.
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.”
According to the prosecutors, Guy Reffitt was part of Texas Three Percenters militia. Three Percenters is a movement that refers back to the belief that only 3% Americans were involved in the Revolutionary War against Britain.
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Reffitt was married and had children. He lived in Wylie Texas (a Dallas suburb). Rocky Hardie, who was a member of the militia, joined him on his journey to Washington, D.C.
Hardie testified that both of them were armed with holstered handguns when they attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the riot. Hardie said that Reffitt gave Hardie 2 pairs zip-tie choke cuffs for detention.
Over 840 have been accused of federal offenses related to the riot. Over 340 have pleaded guilty mostly to misdemeanors. Over 220 people have been sentenced with almost half receiving sentences of imprisonment. Around 150 other people are facing trial dates that extend into 2023.
Reffitt was one of seven Capitol Riot defendants who have been given a jury trial. All seven defendants were unanimously found guilty by jurors on each count in the respective indictments.
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