A man with ties to the Texas Three Percenters, a far-right militia movement, showed up to the Capitol riot last year with zip ties and a handgun on his hip. “We’re all going to drag them motherfuckers out kicking and screaming,” he had recorded himself saying just hours before.
On Monday, that man, 49-year-old Guy Reffitt, received the longest sentence yet handed down over the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
Reffitt was sentenced by a federal judge to 87 months, or just over 7 years, in prison. The first Jan. 6 defendant to go on trial, the Wylie native was convicted on five felony counts in March, including obstruction of Congress, interfering with police, and carrying a firearm to a riot.
A jury also found that he had threatened his teenage son, Jackson, who eventually tipped off federal agents as to his father’s participation in the attack. Prosecutors alleged during Reffitt’s trial that he had warned Jackson and his daughter that he would shoot them should they turned “traitors” on him.
On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower read to the court a short letter penned by Jackson, who asked that his father receive mental health treatment while behind bars.
“My father has lost himself to countless things,” Jackson wrote, according to NBC News. “The prison system should be used not to destroy a person, but to rehabilitate one.”
Prosecutors sought 15 years’ incarceration for Reffitt, while his defense attorney argued that he should receive no more than two. Reffitt’s lawyer Clinton Broden told the Associated Press earlier this month that he was shocked by the prosecution’s recommendation, given that Reffitt hadn’t been accused of entering the Capitol or assaulting any members of law enforcement.
“It’s absolutely absurd,” he said.
Prosecutors also made the unprecedented request to apply a terrorism enhancement to Reffitt’s sentencing. “We do believe that what he was doing that day was domestic terrorism and we do believe that he’s a domestic terrorist,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said Monday.
Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, a Trump appointee, rejected the enhancement motion, saying that it would create a sentencing disparity with other Jan. 6 defendants.
“There are a lot of cases where defendants committed very violent assaults and even possessed weapons... that did not receive this departure,” she explained.
Friedrich did condemn Reffitt’s actions in her remarks, saying he was “in a class of his own” among the more than 850 defendants charged in connection with the Capitol breach so far, The Washington Post reported. The fact that he chose to arm himself with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun made his case “very different from all others prosecuted to date,” she said.
Reffitt, decked out in body armor and a helmet, took on a “self-appointed leadership role” outside the Capitol, Friedrich added. Hours prior, he had recorded himself at Donald Trump’s rally, expounding on his goals for the day.
“I don’t give a shit,” he said, as “Tiny Dancer” played in the background. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every fucking stair on the way out, and Mitch McConnell too, fuck ‘em all. It’s time to take our country back... I think we have the numbers to make it happen.”
In court on Monday, Reffitt described himself as “a fucking idiot” who hadn’t been “thinking clearly.”
“I clearly fucked up,” he said.