Guy Reffitt:  Jan. 6 rioter convicted and sentenced to more than 7 years in prison!

A Capitol Insurrectionist Case Study: Guy Reffitt

Dear Commons Community,

Guy Reffitt, an associate of the far-right Three Percenters militia, was sentenced yesterday to 87 months, or more than seven years, in federal prison for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the longest prison term handed down thus far in connection with the insurrection.

In March, a jury found Reffitt, a former oil industry worker from Wylie, Texas, guilty of five felony counts, including obstruction of Congress, interfering with police and transporting firearms to Washington, D.C., for a riot, and threatening his teenage son upon returning to Texas. Reffitt was the first Jan. 6 defendant to be convicted at trial. As reported by Yahoo News and other media outlets.

Last month, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to sentence Reffitt to 15 years in prison — more than the nine to 11 years recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, and about three times as long as the longest sentence handed down to date in a Jan. 6 case. The sentencing request also marked the first time that federal prosecutors sought to apply a terrorism enhancement for a convicted Jan. 6 rioter.

Defense attorney F. Clinton Broden had asked the judge to sentence his client to just two years in prison, arguing in a court filing that Reffitt did not commit any violence and has no criminal history. Before Monday’s sentencing hearing, the defense submitted letters to the court from a variety of Reffitt’s friends and relatives, including his 18-year-old daughter, Peyton. The letters, Broden wrote, “describe a depressed man who believed he was unable to adequately provide for his family and a man who felt cast aside and marginalized.”

Though Reffitt did not actually enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower sought to portray him as a key instigator in the attack, arguing at trial that Reffitt — armed with a handgun, body armor and zip ties — had cleared the way for others to breach the building by positioning himself at the front of the angry mob and facing off with U.S. Capitol Police.

“Reffitt sought not just to stop Congress, but also to physically attack, remove, and replace the legislators who were serving in Congress,” Nestler and Berkower wrote in their 58-page sentencing memo. His conduct, they argued, “is a quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion,” which is the definition of a federal crime of terrorism and is subject to harsher penalties.

Friedrich, however, denied the government’s request for a terrorism enhancement to Reffitt’s sentence, saying that such a move would result in an “unwarranted sentencing disparity” with other Jan. 6 cases.

“There are a lot of cases where defendants possessed weapons or committed very violent assaults,” Friedrich said Monday, pointing out that the most severe sentences that have been handed down in relation to Jan. 6 so far were 63 months, or just over five years in prison, for defendants convicted of assaulting police officers. “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.”

Reffitt, who has been detained since he was arrested in January 2021, addressed the court before receiving his sentence, saying, “I did want to definitely make an apology, multiple apologies really, and accept my responsibility because I do hate what I did.”

Reffitt is one of more than 850 people who have been charged so far in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, which resulted in five deaths, left more than 150 police officers injured and disrupted the joint session of Congress that had convened to certify the electoral vote count in the 2020 presidential election.

More than 200 Jan. 6 defendants have already pleaded guilty to a variety of mostly misdemeanor charges, while roughly 330 are still awaiting trial on felony charges. In addition to Reffitt, eight others have been convicted at trial so far.

Justice served!


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