Washington— A federal judge sentenced Guy Reffitt, the man from Texasfrom bringing a handgun to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, to 87 months in prison on Monday, handing down the longest sentence to date related to the 2021 assault.
A member of the far-right Texas Three Percenters militia, Reffitt was the first defendant to stand trial on charges stemming from the attack. It wasfive felony counts, including obstructing congressional certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory.
The 7.25-year sentence was far shorter than the 15 years required by prosecutors, who argued the sentence should be harsher since Reffitt’s actions constituted terrorism. At a sentencing hearing on Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., Judge Dabney Friedrich disagreed, citing other Jan. 6 cases in which prosecutors had not sought a such improvement.
Still, the sentence is the longest handed down for a Jan. 6 defendant to date. Two other defendants received 63-month sentences earlier this year for their role in the attack. Reffitt’s defense team had urged the judge to sentence him to no more than two years behind bars.
Reffitt will also be on probation for three years upon his release and will have to pay a $2,000 fine.
Addressing the court in Monday’s hearing, Reffitt admitted he acted like a “fuckin’ idiot” on Jan. 6 and said he regretted his actions, apologizing to Congress and officials. officers he met that day.
“I was a little too crazy,” he told a skeptical Friedrich. “I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
The judge said it was hard not to view the apology as anything other than “half-hearted”, especially given the conspiratorial statements he has made about the events of January 6 since his arrest.
“What he and others who attacked the Capitol on January 6 did is the antithesis of patriotism,” the judge said before handing down the sentence.
Seeking a longer sentence, prosecutors said in court papers that Reffitt played a central role in the crowd on Jan. 6 and intended “to use his gun and police-style handcuffs to force out building legislators and taking over Congress.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told Judge Dabney Friedrich that Reffitt “bulked up” as the mob leader, waving at the rest of the rioters as he confronted police on the Capitol’s west front.
“He didn’t just want President Trump to stay in power,” Nestler said. “He wanted to physically and literally suppress Congress.”
The prosecutor alleged that Jan. 6 was “the start” for Reffitt. “He wanted the rest of his militia to start taking over state capitals all over the country,” Nestler said.
Former United States Capitol police officer Shauni Kerkhoff, who confronted Reffitt outside the Capitol on January 6, implored the judge to sentence Reffitt to the maximum possible sentence under the law.
“His actions were not acts of patriotism. They were acts of domestic terrorism,” Kerkhoff said.
Prosecutors said Reffitt also threatened his children when they wanted to report him to authorities.
During his trial, Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, whoto law enforcement – told the jury that he learned of his father’s membership in the mob when he saw his mother and sister watching media coverage of events that day. jackson the threat his father had made against him and his sister, Peyton, when they tried to report him: “If you report me, you’re a traitor, and traitors get shot.”
In court on Monday, prosecutors read a letter from Jackson to the judge, in which he described the “painful and slow story” of his father’s descent into conspiracy theories. He said his father needed mental health care, which Friedrich said she would need as part of the sentence.
During the trial, Reffitt’s attorney at the time did not call any witnesses and Reffitt did not testify in his own defense.
F. Clinton Broden, Reffitt’s new attorney, disagreed with prosecutors’ characterization of his client. He argued in written notes and in court that Reffitt never entered the Capitol, never removed the handgun from its holster, and “never gave the slightest indication that he would really hurt his children”.
Peyton, the defendant’s daughter, spoke emotionally in court on Monday in support of her father and said his mental health was a real issue.
Wiping away tears, Peyton said, “My dad’s name wasn’t on the flags that were there that day, that everybody was carrying. It was another man’s name,” referring to former President Donald Trump, who addressed his crowd of supporters near the White House before walking on Capitol Hill.
Friedrich, the judge, appeared most concerned about Reffitt’s sanity and prospects once he is finally released, at one point asking, “What is this man going to do after he gets out of prison?”
“It’s really troubling that he repeatedly persists with these views that are way outside the mainstream,” she added, “His claims [about attempts to overthrow the government] are wrong.”
Friedrich also took issue with Reffitt’s violent threats against lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“To date, he has not disavowed those comments,” she said.
Since Reffitt’s conviction by a 12-person jury, five other defendants have been found guilty by juries. Five others were convicted by judges in bench trials. Accused,was acquitted of several counts by a judge.
Outside court on Monday, before sentencing, Reffitt’s wife, Nicole, told CBS News that she believes prosecutors’ portrayal of her husband was a “misrepresentation.”
“He’s a good man,” she said.
Cristina Corujo contributed to this report.
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