The first trial for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump ended Tuesday with a guilty verdict on all charges, which means an important victory for the Department of Justice.
Guy Reffitt was found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding (the certification of the Electoral College result that gave Joe Biden victory in the November 2020 presidential election), rioting, carrying a firearm, breaking and entering, and witness tampering.
On that last point, the jury found that Reffitt attempted to obstruct justice by threatening his two teenage sons if they reported him to police after the attack. Jurors deliberated for about three hours and found him guilty on all counts.
Reffitt, 49, of Wylie, Texas, traveled to be present on January 6 in Washington DC. He brought with him an AR-15-style rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, and went to the Capitol in what he called “full battle gear,” wearing military gear with a helmet and bulletproof vest.
According to the prosecution’s arguments, Reffitt “ignited the crowd with unstoppable force” and helped violently displace Capitol Police officers defending the entrance to the Senate wing of the Capitol.
In conversations recorded before and after the riots that were presented to the jury, Reffitt said he was ready to unseat “constitutionally corrupt” congressmen.
Jurors viewed videos that captured the confrontation between some Capitol police officers and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, who approached them from the west side of the Capitol.
Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a holster on his waist, was wearing zip-lock handcuffs and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet equipped with a video camera when he advanced on police, according to prosecutors. The defendant walked away after an officer pepper-sprayed him in the face.
The threats he made to his own children
Reffitt’s son, Jackson, 19, testified last Thursday that his father threatened him and his sister, then 16, after he drove home from Washington. Reffitt told his children they would be traitors if they reported him to the authorities and said that “traitors get shot,” Jackson Reffitt recalled.
Jackson Refitt said the threat terrified him. His younger sister, Peyton, was listed as a possible government witness but did not testify.
The defendant’s son used a cell phone app to secretly record his father bragging about his role in the riots. The jury heard excerpts from that family conversation.
Reffitt Jr. initially contacted the FBI on Christmas Eve, less than two weeks before the riots, to report his concern about his father’s behavior and his increasingly troubling political rhetoric. But the FBI did not respond until January 6, after the riot broke out.
Another key witness, Rocky Hardie, said he and Reffitt were members of the “Texas Three Percenters” militia group, a militia named in reference to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.
Hardie, who drove from Texas to Washington with Reffitt, testified that they were both armed with holstered pistols when they attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and that the defendant brought an AR-15 rifle to Washington but left it locked in his car. Hardy said.