Prosecutors cite domestic terrorism in sentencing recommendation to judge
More than 200 defendants have pleaded guilty to various felony and misdemeanor charges related to the January 6 attack so far and some have begun serving their sentences. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
The first defendant to be put on trial for involvement in the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol last year faces as many as 15 years in prison Monday when a judge hands down his sentence in federal court.
In March, a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted 49-year-old Guy Wesley Reffitt, of Wylie, Texas, on five felony counts, including obstruction of justice and entering and remaining in a restricted building while armed.
Federal prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to classify Reffitt’s crimes as acts of domestic terrorism, which could send him away for 15 years and become the longest sentence to date related to the Capitol attack.
Aside from Reffitt, close to 900 others have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, which was carried out out by radical supporters of President Donald Trump who sought to overthrow Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Those arrested include members of far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
More than 200 defendants have pleaded guilty to various felony and misdemeanor charges and some have begun serving their sentences.
Reffitt’s lawyers are seeking a sentence of two years or less, arguing that he never entered the building or assaulted any Capitol Police officers during the assault.
Defense attorney Clinton Broden expressed disbelief at the government’s hefty sentencing recommendation.
“It’s absolutely absurd,” Broden said according to ABC News. “I certainly don’t condone what Mr. Reffitt did. And I think everybody realizes the seriousness of the offenses. But at the same point, there has to be some proportionality here.”
The judge has wide discretion to rule and is not bound by sentencing guidelines or any of the recommendations put forth by either side.
During the trial, prosecutors said Reffitt was a leading member of the Texas Three Percenters right-wing militia group, which organized a tactical breach of the west side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Evidence presented in court included a video of Reffitt climbing a stone banister where scaffolding had been erected in preparation for Biden’s inauguration that month. Footage also showed Reffitt fighting with Capitol Police officers, who used pepper spray and non-lethal ammunition to stop him from entering.
Another video presented as evidence came from Reffitt’s own camera, which was mounted to a helmet he wore at the attack.
“We’re taking the Capitol before the day is out,” Reffitt said in his video. “Everybody is in the same harmony on that … dragging ’em out kicking and [expletive] screaming.”
“I didn’t come here to play games,” he added. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every [expletive] stair on the way out.”
House committee holds eighth hearing on Jan. 6 Capitol attack
Former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger (L) and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews are sworn in July 21, 2022 to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo