Man Who Stormed Capitol With Gun Gets Longest Prison Term

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Texas man convicted of storming the US Capitol with a handgun, helmet and holstered body armor was sentenced Monday to more than seven years in prison, the longest sentence handed out among hundreds so far of riots in the Capitol.

Prosecutors said Guy Refitt told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol by the ankles, “banging her head on every step of the way down.” ‘ according to a court filing.

Refitt’s sentence — seven years and three months — is two years longer than the previous longest sentence for a Capitol defendant. But it’s less than half the 15-year sentence demanded by a federal prosecutor, who called Reffitt a domestic terrorist and said he wants to physically remove and replace members of Congress.

Refitt was the first person to face trial over the Jan. 6, 2021 attack in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump disrupted the joint session of Congress to confirm Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who presided over Refitt’s jury trial, also sentenced him to three years’ supervised release after his sentence and $2,000 in damages.

The sentencing guidelines calculated by the judge provided for imprisonment from seven years and three months to nine years.

Friedrich dismissed prosecutors’ claim that a “step up to terrorism” — which would result in a much longer prison sentence — was warranted in Refitt’s case. It was the first time prosecutors had requested this sentencing for a Jan. 6 case.

“He wanted to physically and literally remove Congress,” Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told the judge. “We believe he is a domestic terrorist.”

However, Friedrich questioned why Refitt would deserve the terrorism boost when many other rioters were engaging in violence and making similarly disturbing threats.

The longest prison sentence before Reffitt was five years and three months for two men who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers in the Capitol.

Reffitt, who has been in jail for about 19 months, was initially reluctant to speak to the judge during Monday’s hearing. But he changed his mind during a lunch break and used expletives to apologize to police officers, lawmakers and congressional staffers who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Reffitt called himself “an idiot” and struggled to explain why he was storming the Capitol.

“It was a big blur,” he said. “It was just very messy and confusing.”

Friedrich questioned the sincerity of Refitt’s apologies and expressions of remorse, noting that he had released statements from prison depicting himself and other rioters as patriots rightfully rebelling against a tyrannical US government.

“Not only are they not patriots, they are a direct threat to our democracy and will be punished as such,” the judge said.

Reffitt suggested that his fiery rhetoric from prison was a necessary exaggeration to raise money to support his family.

“I’m out on the street if I don’t say anything that would make them money,” he said.

Defense attorney Clinton Broden requested that Reffitt be sentenced to no more than two years in prison. Broden noted that Refitt did not assault any police officers or enter the Capitol.

Videos showed the confrontation between outnumbered Capitol police officers and a crowd, including Reffitt, who approached them on the west side of the Capitol.

Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a holster at the waist, wearing handcuffs with cable ties and wearing body armor and a helmet with a video camera when he approached officers, according to prosecutors. He backed out after an officer sprayed pepper in his face, but he waved to other rioters, who eventually breached the building, prosecutors said.

Reffitt did not testify at his trial before a jury convicted him on all five counts of his charges in March. The jury found him guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress, disturbing police officers outside the Capitol and threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement.

Refitt’s 19-year-old son Jackson testified that his father told him and his then 16-year-old sister that if they reported him to the authorities they would be traitors and warned that “traitors will be shot”.

Guy Reffitt was a member of the Texas Three Percenters militia group, according to prosecutors. The Three Percent Movement refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought the British in the Revolutionary War.

Reffitt lived with his wife and children in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He drove to Washington, DC with Rocky Hardie, a member of the militia group.

Hardie testified that both were armed with holstered handguns when they attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the riot. Hardie also said Refitt gave him two pairs of zip-up cuffs in case they needed to arrest someone.

More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the insurgency. Over 340 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. More than 220 were convicted, almost half of them received prison sentences. Around 150 more have hearing dates up to 2023.

Reffitt is one of seven defendants in the Capitol riot who have received a jury trial so far. The jury found all seven unanimous on all counts of their respective charges.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Jan. 6 committee hearings at Man Who Stormed Capitol With Gun Gets Longest Prison Term

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