By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An associate of the far-right Three Percenters militia could be sentenced to more than a decade in prison on Monday for joining the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 while armed and threatening to harm his own children if they ratted him out to the FBI.
Guy Reffitt, of Wylie, Texas, was convicted by a jury in March of five felony charges, including bringing a gun onto the Capitol grounds and obstructing an official proceeding. Federal guidelines recommend a prison sentence of 9 to 11.25 years for those crimes, prosecutors say.
Reffitt, who was 49 at the time of his conviction, never entered the Capitol, but video evidence showed him egging on the crowd and leading other rioters up a set of stairs outside the building.
His emotionally charged trial included testimony from his estranged son Jackson, who brought his father to tears as he told the jury about how his father threatened him if he dared to call the FBI.
“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,'” Jackson Reffitt told jurors. “‘And traitors get shot.'”
Reffitt was the first Capitol rioter to go to trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
To date, federal prosecutors have prevailed and won convictions in all but one of 13 trials tied to the Capitol attack.
Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to sentence Reffitt to 15 years, more than the U.S. sentencing guidelines recommend, citing Reffitt’s crime as being “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion.”
“A member of the Texas Three Percenters militia group,… Reffitt was aware of Congress’s Joint Session on Jan. 6, 2021, to review and certify the Electoral College ballots, and he wanted to stop it,” they wrote in their sentencing memo.
Reffitt’s attorney has sought to portray him as man who felt marginalized and down on his luck after losing his job in 2019.
Depressed and suicidal, his attorney said he turned to political news on social media and became a fervent believer in former President Donald Trump.
His daughter Peyton told the court in a letter she could see how her father’s ego and personality “fell to his knees whenPresident Trump spoke.”
“You could tell he listened to Trump’s words asif he was really truly speaking to him … Constantly feeding polarizing racial thought.”
His attorney F. Clinton Broden said that while his client broke the law, his actions were not as egregious as those of others who entered the Capitol and assaulted police.
He noted that Reffitt will get credit for the 19 months he has already spent behind bars since his arrest, and has asked the judge to impose a sentence of no more than two years.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)