Prosecutors are asking for 15 years in prison for armed rioters in Capitol

Federal prosecutors are seeking a 15-year sentence for a Texas man found guilty Storming the US Capitol with a pistol in a holster and called him a member of a militia group who played a central role in the attack by the pro-Trump mob, according to a court filing on Friday.

If a judge accepts the Justice Department’s recommendation, Guy Wesley Refitt’s sentence would be almost three times longer than that of the more than 200 other defendants convicted of crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021 riots in the nation’s capital.

The longest sentence to date is five years and three months for Robert Palmer, a Florida man who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers in the Capitol.

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich is scheduled to sentence Reffitt on August 1. The judge is not bound by any of the recommendations or the sentencing guidelines calculated by the court’s parole division, which provide for a sentence of between nine and three months,

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Defense Attorney Clinton Broden calling for Refitt to be convicted no more than two years in prison, said he was shocked by the prosecutor’s recommendation. He noted that Reffitt was not charged with entering the Capitol or assaulting police officers that day.

“This is absolutely absurd,” he said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I certainly don’t condone what Mr. Refitt did. And I think everyone is aware of the seriousness of the crimes. But at the same time there has to be a certain degree of proportionality.”

Prosecutors argue that “upward terrorism” is warranted in Refitt’s case, which would result in a significantly longer sentence if the judge agrees to use it. They say the evidence from the trial showed that weeks before January, Refitt planned to travel to Washington, DC “with the specific intent of attacking the Capitol and taking over Congress.”

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“Reffit had no intention of simply obstructing Congressional confirmation of Electoral College elections. Rather, Reffitt intended to physically remove lawmakers from the building (using his firearm and flexicuffs and the power of the crowd) and actually ‘take over’ Congress,” wrote US Assistant Attorney Jeffrey Nestler.

It was Reffitt, the Capitol defendant who was to be tried convicted by a jury in March all five counts in his indictment. The jury found him guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote, disrupting police officers guarding the Capitol and threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement.

Prosecutors say Refitt was a leader of a Texas militia group. He told other members of the militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol by her ankles, “banging her head on every step of the way down,” Nestler wrote.

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Reffitt, a Wylie, Texas resident, did not testify at his trial.

During the closing arguments of the trial, US Attorney Risa Berkower told jurors that Reffitt proudly “lit the fire” that enabled others in a mob to subdue Capitol police officers near the Senate doors.

The jury saw videos that captured the confrontation between some Capitol police officers and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, who approached them on the west side of the Capitol.

Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a holstered waist, wearing handcuffs with cable ties and wearing body armor and a helmet fitted with a video camera when he approached police, according to prosecutors. He backed out after an officer sprayed pepper in his face, but he waved to other rioters, who eventually breached the building, prosecutors said.

Refitt drove to Washington, D.C. with Rocky Hardie, who said he and Refitt were members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group. The “Three Percenters” militia movement refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought the British in the Revolutionary War.

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Hardie testified that both were armed with holstered handguns when they attended then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the riot. Hardie said Refitt spoke of dragging lawmakers out of the Capitol and replacing them with people who “would follow the Constitution.” Hardie also said Refitt gave him two pairs of zip-up cuffs in case they needed to arrest someone.

Refitt’s 19-year-old son Jackson testified that his father threatened him and his then 16-year-old sister after he was driving home from Washington. Refitt told his children they would be traitors if they reported him to the authorities, saying, “Traitors will be shot,” Jackson Refitt recalled.

Refitt is “done with politics,” his attorney said in a court filing on Friday.

“His sole goal now is to bring his family back together while acknowledging that as much as he’s spent the last two decades caring for them, he’s the one who drove them apart,” Broden wrote.

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More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the insurgency. Over 330 of them have pleaded guilty, mainly to misdemeanor charges, and over 200 of them have been convicted. More than 100 others have hearing dates.

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Watch AP’s coverage of the committee’s Jan. 6 hearings at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/07/16/prosecutors-seek-15-year-sentence-for-armed-capitol-rioter/ Prosecutors are asking for 15 years in prison for armed rioters in Capitol

Sarah Y. Kim

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