Judge Hands Down Lengthiest Sentence Yet Over Jan. 6 Crimes

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
August 1, 2022 Updated: August 2, 2022

A man who carried a gun onto U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced on Aug. 1 to more than seven years in prison.

Guy Reffitt, 49, of Texas was sentenced to 87 months in prison, according to a summary of the hearing. The sentence is the longest handed down to a person charged with a crime linked to the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The previous record was 63 months.

Reffitt also was sentenced to three years of supervised release, mandatory mental health treatment, and $2,000 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, the Trump appointee overseeing the case, said Reffitt and others who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, are a “direct threat to our democracy” and will be “punished as such,” WUSA-TV reported.

Reffitt told the court before his sentence was handed down that he was “a [expletive] idiot” and  that he “[expletive] up.”

But Friedrich wondered aloud if Reffitt was sincere, saying that she expected to hear from him earlier, and Jeffrey Nestler, a prosecutor on the case, said the prosecution believed that Reffitt’s statements weren’t credible.

A jury convicted Reffitt in March on all five counts: obstruction of an official proceeding, two counts of civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and obstruction of justice.

Reffitt had faced up to 20 years in prison. While prosecutors asked for him to receive 15 years behind bars, Reffitt’s lawyers said he should receive no more than two years imprisonment.

Reffitt did express regret in a letter to the court before sentencing, saying that he didn’t intend to carry out violence at the Capitol.

“I became energized by the crowd and I am not proud of what I did on the Capitol staircase that day,” he wrote. “My regrets are immense.”

The judge described the letter as “carefully crafted,” noting that Reffitt didn’t disavow the Three Percenters, a militia group of which he was a member, WUSA-TV reported. Friedrich also said Reffitt offered “really troubling” comparisons in the missive between Jan. 6, 2021, and the American Revolution in 1776 and later called threats he made against family members “highly disturbing.”

The judge noted that he held a gun to his wife’s head in 2020, pointing to remarks the wife made in a podcast about the incident.

Reported to FBI

Reffitt, an oil rig manager and petroleum consultant who was laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, arrived at the west side of the Capitol at about 1:50 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, and “charged up the Capitol steps toward Capitol police officers,” according to prosecutors. After being sprayed with chemicals by law enforcement and struck with rubber bullets, Reffitt left, went back to his hotel, and departed for home.

Reffitt, a member of a Texas militia group called the Three Percenters, was armed with a pistol in a waist holster, according to prosecutors. He has said that he took a gun into Washington but disassembled it to comply with the law. He never brandished the weapon.

After returning from Washington, he bragged about joining the Capitol breach and was making plans to join a future event of a similar nature, according to communications obtained by the government.

Reffitt, during a Jan. 11, 2021, discussion with his daughter, Peyton, and his son, Jackson, both teenagers, said that anybody who turned him in “would be traitors” and that “traitors get shot,” according to a recording captured by his son.

Jackson soon reported his father to the FBI.

He testified during Reffitt’s trial that he was “scared” for himself and his sister after that conversation, so he went to the government.

Peyton said she didn’t feel threatened and submitted supportive statements to the court along with her sister, Reffitt’s wife, one of his daughter’s boyfriends, a woman who said he helped her recover from addiction, and five longtime friends.

First Defendant to Go on Trial

Reffitt was the first Jan. 6, 2021, defendant to see their case go to trial.

Jurors quickly returned a unanimous verdict, setting the stage for all the unanimous convictions that have since followed in Washington, where the overwhelming majority of voters are Democrats.

As of July 6, 10 individuals have been found guilty. The only acquittals have come from judges during bench trials.

Video footage shows Reffitt near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, wearing a blue jacket, a black vest, and a helmet with a Go Pro-style camera attached, washing his eyes out after being hit by chemical spray.

Reffitt acknowledged to FBI agents that he went onto Capitol grounds. He wasn’t accused of entering the Capitol.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.