On Monday, a federal judge handed seven years of prison time to a Texas man who was present at the January 6 capitol riot, the heaviest sentence yet tied to the January 6 trials.
A Washington, D.C., jury convicted Guy Reffitt, 49, of five felonies in March, including carrying a gun on U.S. Capitol grounds, threatening his children against reporting him to law enforcement, two counts of civil disorder and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The Department of Justice requested that U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich sentence Reffitt as a domestic terrorist, but Friedrich denied the request, stating it would create an “unwarranted sentencing disparity,” according to Politico. Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year term, which would have been feasible had Reffitt been sentenced as a terrorist.
“There are a lot of cases where defendants possessed weapons or committed very violent assaults,” Friedrich said, noting that the longest January 6 riot-related sentence to date is just over five years. “The government is asking for a sentence that is three times as long as any other defendant and the defendant did not assault an officer.”
Reffitt was a member of the militia group Texas Three Percenters and traveled to Washington, D.C., with another militia member to protest the results of the 2020 election. Both men were armed with handguns and rifles.
He was armed with a pistol on his hip and was wearing body armor and a helmet with a camera on his head. Reffitt never entered the building, stopping at the steps to the Capitol’s Senate wing. He urged other protesters to storm inside with a bullhorn.
“I didn’t come here to play — I’m taking the Capitol,” his camera recorded him saying. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hitting every stair on the way out.”
The judge did grant that Reffitt was “in a class of his own so far as I’m aware in terms of what he was doing there that day, and what he claimed what he was there to do,” she said, according to The Washington Post. Friedrich also said that the fact that Reffitt was armed was “huge,” but asked, “does the firearm deserve three times the sentence if it was not brandished or used in any way?”
Reffitt’s son testified against him during his March trial and supported prosecutors’ sentencing request with the caveat that his father could receive rehabilitation and counseling in prison. The 19-year-old Jackson told the jury at trial that his father threatened him and his sister about reporting him to the authorities.
“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,’” Jackson recounted. “‘And traitors get shot.’”
His daughter, however, sided with her father at his sentencing hearing, writing a letter to the judge asking for leniency. She instead blamed the riot on former President Donald Trump.
“My father’s name wasn’t on the flags that everyone was carrying there that day. … There was another man’s name,” Peyton Reffitt wrote to the court, according to the Post. “He was not the leader.”