The Texas man is the first accused rioter to stand trial for the Capitol attack.
Guilty verdict in 1st Jan. 6 trial
A Texas man who is the first to stand trial in the prosecution of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty Tuesday on all charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding, for his role in disrupting the certification of 2020 presidential election.
Guy Reffitt was also found guilty of making threats to obstruct justice, transporting a firearm, and bringing that firearm to a restricted area he refused to leave.
The jury returned the verdict after less than four hours of deliberation.
Reffitt’s case, which was a major test for the Justice Department in its sprawling effort to hold accountable those who participated in the riot, was bolstered by in-person testimony from multiple witnesses including Reffitt’s own son, and photo and video evidence from the day that rioters attacked the Capitol.
Reffitt is among the more than 750 people who have been charged in the Jan. 6 attack, and the jury’s verdict could have an impact on hundreds of other defendants who have yet to enter into plea deals with the government. More than 200 people have already pleaded guilty to a variety of misdemeanors and felony charges, with some being sentenced to years in federal prison.
The government sought to cast Reffitt, a member of the Texas Three Percenter militia group, as a ringleader of one of the first waves of the mob that breached the Capitol from its west side. Video played by prosecutors during the trial showed Reffitt climbing a stone banister near where scaffolding had been put up in advance of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and him confronting U.S. Capitol Police officers who warned him to back down before they fired less-than-lethal ammunition and pepper spray to stop his advance.
In videos presented by the government, Reffitt is seen gesturing to the crowd behind him in what appears to be an attempt to get them to move up the stairs toward multiple entryways that lead into the building.
At one point, the prosecution played out first-person footage that Reffitt recorded with a Kodak 360-degree camera mounted on his helmet while in the crowd at the “Save America” rally prior to the attack.
“We’re taking the Capitol before the day is out,” Reffitt says in the video while in the crowd at the rally. “Everybody is in the same harmony on that … dragging ’em out kicking and f***ing screaming.”
“I didn’t come here to play games … I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every f***ing stair on the way out,” he says later. “I think we have the numbers to make it happen … without firing a single shot.”
The government’s case also relied in part on two key witnesses: former Texas Three Percenter Rocky Hardie, who testified against Reffitt in exchange for immunity to cooperate, and Reffitt’s own son Jackson, who submitted an online tip to the FBI first alerting them to his father’s plans.
Jackson said that his father, growing concerned about inquiries from the FBI, had warned Jackson and his sister not to be a “traitor” and that “traitors get shot.”
In a surprise move on the final day of witness testimony, the government scrapped earlier plans to call Reffitt’s daughter Peyton to the stand, where she was expected to testify to her father’s alleged threats.
The defense did not call any witnesses, and Reffitt himself declined to testify.
Reffitt’s attorney William Welch sought to cast doubt on Jackson’s and Hardie’s testimony, underscoring Jackson’s numerous media appearances and the success of his GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $150,000.
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Adam DesCamp testified that he encountered Reffitt on Jan. 6 before he and other officers were assaulted by the mob. He described shooting Reffitt with plastic projectiles after Reffitt had already been hit with pepper balls, but said that neither ammunition deterred him. It was the first time they had deployed their less-than-lethal weapons systems, DesCamp said. He described a “long line of people” behind Reffitt as he approached the west side entrance.
“Did you feel outnumbered?” prosecutor Risa Berkower asked.
“Absolutely,” replied DesCamp, who said Reffitt had made threatening remarks to DesCamp’s partner, Officer Shauni Kerkoff, and other officers.
DesCamp said the crowd seemed to be “taking cues” from Reffitt as they shouted, “Don’t be a traitor! Can’t stop us all!”
“They were not direct threats, I believe they were implied,” DesCamp said.
Reffitt is one of several Jan. 6 rioters accused of possessing a firearm while on Capitol grounds, and prosecutors said he traveled from his home in Texas to Washington with an AR-15 rifle and a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol — though he is only alleged to have carried the pistol during the riot itself. As evidence, the government provided an image of Reffitt’s exposed waistband where a pistol holster and silver object is visible.
During his closing remarks, Welch conceded that his client had been in a restricted area and told the jury they should find him guilty of such an offense. But he disputed every other charge brought by the government, including whether his client carried his pistol with him at the time of the attack.
Prosecutors also played a recording Reffitt allegedly made of a Zoom meeting he participated in with other members of the Three Percenter militia group following the riot.
In it, Reffitt is heard talking about injuries he said he suffered getting shot by “clay bullets,” and being “bear sprayed” by police outside of the Capitol.
“Baby, you’re gonna need a bigger gun than that,” Reffitt is heard bragging in the Zoom recording, recounting what he claimed he said to the female USCP officer who was shooting him with projectiles as he advanced toward her up the Capitol steps.
“They’re lucky we didn’t shoot ’em … I mean, they really need to be grateful,” Reffitt said, speaking about lawmakers in the Capitol that day.
Reffitt’s wife Nicole decried the guilty verdict and urged other Jan. 6 defendants to remain defiant.
“Do not take a plea,” said Nicole Reffitt, who indicted that her husband would appeal his verdict. “They want us to take a plea. The reason we have all guilty verdicts is they are making a point out of Guy and that is to intimidate the other members of the One-Sixers. And we will all fight together.”
She thanked the jury and court staff, but had strong words for prosecutors.
“It just really opened my eyes up to the overreach of the DOJ and the affect that it will have on the American people in the long run. As long as you allow this to continue, you are all in danger,” she said. “If you’re going to be convicted on your first Amendment rights, all Americans should be wary. This fight has just begun.”
She said last month that the trail had thrown her family into turmoil.
“It has been so difficult,” she told ABC News. “The void that’s been left by Jackson and Guy, the girls and I have a very hard time.”
“There were clearly signs he was getting involved with a lot of different people and a lot of bad people,” Jackson Reffitt told ABC News about his father.
“Hearing my father was there — it was absolutely disgusting,” he said. “And pretty much demoralizing. And I really lost all respect for him in that moment.”
Reffitt spoke to ABC News from jail in December, saying, “This has been disastrous for me and my family, especially for my girls, my son — actually, all of my family.”
“I never expected anything like this to happen,” he said.
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