Capitol assailant sentenced to seven years in prison, heaviest sentence to date

Capitol assailant sentenced to seven years in prison, heaviest sentence ever this day


A far-right activist was sentenced Monday in Washington to more than seven years in prison for participating in the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the heaviest sentence ever handed down to this day. 

Guy Reffitt, 49, a member of the group “Three Percenters”, was convicted in March, including of obstructing the work of Congress and the police, in the outcome of the first trial devoted to this attack.

At the head of the first group to attack the headquarters of Congress, he had helped to force the police lines, equipped according to the prosecutors with a handgun, a bulletproof vest, a helmet and plastic handcuffs.

After being irritated with gas, he had retreated, while hundreds of Donald Trump supporters sowed violence and chaos inside the Capitol, delaying the certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory.

“I didn't go in, but I helped start the fire,” the oil industry worker, originally from Texas, then boasted in a video.

Upon his return to Wylie, near Dallas, he had threatened his two children to prevent them from reporting him to the police. “Traitors, we kill them,” he said in a recorded conversation transmitted to the FBI by his 19-year-old son, Jackson.

During the trial, the prosecution relied on numerous videos showing him, in the front row, haranguing the crowd and calling him a “leader”.

Judging that his actions fell under federal laws on “terrorism”, prosecutors then demanded a severe sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment.

His lawyers pleaded for two years in prison, stressing that he was not had not entered the Capitol and had not committed violence.

Judge Dabney Friedrich retained an interim sentence of seven years and three months in prison. She called his actions “the antithesis of democracy” but refused to stray too far from the sentences handed down so far, the heaviest being five years and three months in prison.

Since the assault, more than 850 people were arrested, 330 pleaded guilty and only a dozen were judged during trials. So far, around 100 prison sentences have been handed down.

In parallel with this judicial component, a parliamentary inquiry is seeking to shed light on the role of former President Donald Trump in the attack. Its report is expected in the fall.