First US Capitol riot trial: Defendant convicted on all counts | Courts News

A Texan man was convicted for storming the US Capitol with a shotgun with a hole, a important victory to US federal prosecutors in the first of hundreds of cases stemming from last year’s riots.

A US grand jury on Tuesday also found Guy Wesley Reffitt interfered with police officers guarding the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and obstructed justice for threatening two of his minor children. him if they reported him to law enforcement after the attack.

The jurors deliberated for about three hours and found him on all counts.

Judgment can be a common bell for many others Capitol Riot cases, giving U.S. Justice Department prosecutors more leverage in plea negotiations and discouraging other defendants from gambling in their own private trials.

Reffitt, 49, of Wylie, Texas, did not testify at the trial that began last Wednesday. Apparently he didn’t react to the verdict, but his face was covered by a mask.

During the closing argument Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower told jurors that Reffitt drove to Washington, DC, with the intention of preventing Congress from certifying the President’s election victory. Joe Biden.

Reffitt is proud”set up the fireThe prosecutor said “allowed others in an overwhelming crowd of Capitol police officers near the Senate door.

Reffitt was not charged with entering the Capitol building. Defense attorney William Welch said there was no evidence that Reffitt damaged property, used force or physically harmed anyone.

Defense attorneys urged jurors to acquit Reffitt of all but one count: He said they should convict him of a misdemeanor for which he entered and was in a restricted area. .

Reffitt faces a total of five counts: obstructing an official proceeding; unlawful presence on Capitol grounds while armed; transporting firearms during civil disturbances; interfere with law enforcement officers in a civil disorder and obstruct justice.

The jury watched a video of the confrontation between several Capitol Police and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, approached them on the west side of the Capitol.

According to prosecutors, Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a belt holster, wore zippered handcuffs, body armor and a helmet with a video camera attached to it when he entered the police station. He withdrew after an officer sprayed him with pepper spray, but he waved to other rioters who eventually broke into the building, prosecutors said.

Before the crowd moved forward, Reffitt used a megaphone to shout at the policeman to step aside and urge the crowd to move forward and past the officers. Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said that day Reffitt played a leading role.

In testimony last Friday, prosecutors enlarged Reffitt’s video at the Capitol. FBI Special Agent Laird Hightower said the image showed “a straight silver metal object” in a holster protruding from under Reffitt’s jacket as he leaned forward.

Shauni Kerkhoff, one of the Capitol police officers who tried to repel Reffitt, said she threw pepper balls that didn’t stop him from advancing. She testified that Reffitt appeared to be leading the crowd upstairs towards the police.

Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, 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, “Traitors will be shot,” Jackson Reffitt recalls.

Jackson Reffitt, then 18, said the threat terrified him. His sister, Peyton, was listed as a possible government witness but did not testify.

Jackson Reffitt used a mobile phone app to secretly record his father bragging about his role in the riot. The jury heard excerpts of that family conversation.

Jackson Reffitt initially contacted the FBI on Christmas Eve, less than two weeks before the riots, to report concerns about his father’s behavior and increasingly disturbing rhetoric. But the FBI did not respond until January 6, after the riots broke out.

Another key witness, Rocky Hardie, said he and Reffitt were members of the “Texas Three Percenters” militia. The Three Percenters movement refers to the myth that only 3 percent of Americans fought in the American Revolutionary War against the British.

Hardie drove from Texas to Washington with Reffitt. He testified that they were both armed with handguns when they attended.”Stop stealing“Before the riot broke out.

Reffitt also brought an AR-15 rifle to Washington but left it locked in his car, Hardie said.

Hardie said Reffitt, while they were driving to Washington, talked about pulling lawmakers out of the Capitol and replacing them with people who would “follow the Constitution.” Hardie also said Reffitt gave him two pairs of tethered handcuffs in case they needed to detain anyone.

Reffitt was arrested less than a week after the riot. The FBI found a handgun in a holster on a nightstand in the defendant’s bedroom when they searched his home near Dallas.

More than 750 people have been charged federal crime related to the riot. More than 220 of them have pleaded guilty, most to misdemeanors, and more than 110 have been convicted. About 90 other people have a trial date.

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