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Federal prosecutors argue that Guy Reffitt, the first Capitol rioter convicted at trial, should get 15 years behind bars

Prosecutors cited this photo in their affidavit against Capitol riot suspect Guy Wesley Reffitt, seen here flushing his eyes out with water after he was hit with bear spray at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

DOJ

  • A jury found Guy Reffitt guilty on all five charges he faced from the Capitol siege on January 6.
  • Reffitt’s teenage son recounted at trial how his father bragged about his role in the attack.
  • The 15-year sentence, if ordered, would go down as the longest to date for a Capitol rioter. 

Guy Reffitt, the first Capitol rioter convicted at trial on charges stemming from the January 6, 2021 insurrection, should receive a 15-year prison sentence for his “central role” in leading a pro-Trump mob that clashed with police protecting Congress, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Friday.

A jury in Washington, DC, needed just hours in early March to find Reffitt guilty on all five charges he faced in connection with the Capitol attack, including obstruction of an official proceeding. Reffitt, of Texas, was also found guilty of entering restricted Capitol grounds with a handgun and with later threatening his children to keep them from reporting him to law enforcement.

In a 58-page court filing, federal prosecutors argued that Reffitt played a pivotal role in “overwhelming officers and showing the mob the way forward at the outset of the riot.” The language echoed their description of Reffitt at his weeklong trial, where prosecutors called Reffitt the “tip of this mob’s spear” and played video footage of him ascending stairs up to the Capitol in tactical gear, with fellow members of the pro-Trump mob following him.

If ordered, the 15-year sentence would go down as the longest prison term given to a Capitol rioter to date, nearly tripling the more than 5-year sentence Robert Scott Palmer received after throwing a fire extinguisher at police during the January 6 attack. Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee confirmed in 2017, is set to sentence Reffitt on August 1.

Reffitt’s conviction represented a decisive victory for federal prosecutors, in a first test of the Justice Department’s ability to win guilty verdicts at trial against accused Capitol rioters. In the months since the verdict, the Justice Department has won convictions at several other trials, with juries often returning guilty verdicts after only hours of deliberations.

In their sentencing recommendation Friday, prosecutors said Reffitt came to Washington, DC, with the intention of using his gun and police-style flexicuffs to “forcibly drag legislators out of the building and take over Congress.” At his trial, police officers recounted their desperate attempts to repel rioters as they converged on the Capitol.

The trial also featured dramatic testimony from Reffitt’s teenage son, Jackson Reffitt, who recalled from the witness stand how he secretly recorded his father after he returned to Texas and exuberantly recounted his climb up the steps outside the Capitol. 

Jackson Reffitt testified that his father grew distressed as law enforcement tracked down and arrested suspected Capitol rioters in the weeks after the January 6 attack. He described a conversation in which Guy Reffitt told him and his younger sister that they would be traitors if they turned him into law enforcement — and that “traitors get shot.”

At the sight of his son taking the stand, Reffitt wept inside the courtroom.

In a separate court filing Friday, Reffitt’s defense lawyer argued that he should receive a sentence of no longer than 2 years in prison. His lawyer, F. Clinton Broden, noted that Reffitt never entered the Capitol.

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