This past Monday, one federal judge issue the heaviest sentence yet to a defendant who was present for the January 6 riots. The sentence handed down to the Texas man who never made his way into the building was a total of seven years.
A jury in Washington, D.C. officially convicted 49-year-old Guy Reffitt, of a total of five felonies back in March, which included the carrying of a firearm on U.S. Capitol grounds and issuing threats against his children to not report him to law enforcement. Reffitt was also issued a conviction on two counts of civil disorder, and another count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
Dabney Friedrich, a U.S. District Court Judge, declined a request from the Department of Justice to issue a sentence to Reffitt of being a domestic terrorist, stating that it would create an “unwarranted sentencing disparity,” as reported by Politico. Labeling Reffitt’s crimes as terrorism would have resulted in a massive increase in the potential sentence for the man as prosecutors requested a 15-year term.
“There are a lot of cases where defendants possessed weapons or committed very violent assaults,” explained Friedrich, highlighting that the longest sentence in relation to the January 6 riots is currently slightly 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.”
As a member of the known militia group Texas Three Percenters, Reffitt went out to Washington D.C. along with another member of the militia in order to demonstrate against the results of the 2020 election. Both of the people traveled, armed with rifles and handguns, to the nation’s capital.
On the day of the January 6 riots, Reffitt made it to the U.S. Capitol with a pistol holstered on his hip, wearing body armor, and a helmet sporting a camera on his head. Reffitt made it up to the steps just outside the Capitol’s Senate wing, but never actually made the move to enter the building himself. He made use of a bullhorn to call for other protesters to storm into the building.
“I didn’t come here to play — I’m taking the Capitol,” he stated in the recording caught by his camera. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hitting every stair on the way out.”
However, the judge did state 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 stated, as reported to The Washington Post. Friedrich also claimed that the fact that Reffitt was armed was “huge,” but questioned, “does the firearm deserve three times the sentence if it was not brandished or used in any way?”
The actions carried out by Reffitt on January 6th sparked a massive rift throughout his household.
Due to this, his own son testified against him back in the trial in March and stated his support for the sentencing request from the prosecutors with the caveat that Reffitt could get counseling and rehabilitation in prison. The son, Jackson, stated to the jury at the trial that his father threatened him and his sister about trying to report the older man to the authorities.
“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,’” explained Jackson. “‘And traitors get shot.’”
Reffitt’s young daughter chose to side with her father at his sentencing hearing, sending out a letter to the judge calling for leniency. She squarely put the blame for the riot on then-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 stated to the court, as reported by the Post. “He was not the leader.”