The first federal trial related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot returned a monumental verdict in the federal government’s prosecution of those involved.
After a weeklong trial with four days of testimony, Guy Reffitt, 49, a Wylie resident and oil field worker, was unanimously found guilty by a jury on all five criminal charges; Transporting a Firearm in Furtherance of a Civil Disorder; Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Entering or Remaining in a Restricted Area or Grounds with a Firearm; Obstructing Officers During a Civil Disorder; and Obstruction of Justice — Hindering Communication Through Force or Threat of Physical Force, for his involvement in the Jan. 6 event.
Reffitt’s case was the first to go to trial and is believed to be a good bellwether for the more than 700 cases still working their way through the courts.
He was tried before U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich. U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower prosecuted the case.
Reffitt was represented by defense attorney William A. Welch III.
According to reports, Reffitt, as a member of the Texas Three Percenters, attempted to storm the Capitol armed with an AR-15 rifle, a handgun and zip ties, but never fully entered the building. While he was at the Capitol, Reffitt captured several video and audio recordings which were used as evidence against him in his trial.
Prosecutors claimed Reffitt attempted to enter the restricted area on the lower west terrace. U.S. Capitol Police said multiple rounds of pepper balls and pepper spray were used to keep Reffitt from entering the building.
Evidence presented against Reffitt included videos he showed his family after returning from Washington, D.C., texts he sent to his teenage son, Jackson Reffitt, audio recordings made by Jackson, recordings made by Reffitt using a helmet-mounted camera and audio of a Zoom meeting with leaders of the Texas Three Percenters.
In one recording, Reffitt can be heard saying, “we got to push forward” and “I’m prepared to take this capitol.”
On Thursday, March 3 the prosecution called Jackson to the stand.
During his testimony, Jackson,19, described his father’s growing emotional distance and ties to the anti-government militia group before the event at the Capitol. He said his father began to wear a gun on his hip with a bulletproof vest.
After his father’s return from Washington D.C., Jackson secretly began recording him. Reffitt told him and his younger sister if they turned him in that they would be considered traitors and “traitors get shot.”
Jackson told the jury he’d become convinced his father meant it when he said he was “going to do something big,” which prompted him to submit a tip to the FBI on Christmas Eve 2020.
The Friday, March 4 testimony included Rocky Hardie, a fellow Three Percenter who testified against Reffitt under an agreement with the DOJ that does not preclude him from prosecution for his role in the riot.
Hardie said he joined the militia group in 2020, adding that the group is not a racist or white nationalist group but is about respecting the constitution and the government as long as it upholds the constitution.
Hardie’s testimony reinforced much of what the jurors had heard in the previous two days. During cross-examination, Welch suggested Hardie’s testimony was self-serving because he has not been charged for his role in the Capitol riot.
Welch called no witnesses.
Reffitt’s sentencing has been scheduled for June 8 at 10 a.m.