Reffitt, a recruiter for a right-wing militia known as the Three Percenters, was the first Capitol rioter to stand trial rather than enter a plea deal.
“Mr. Reffitt’s reluctance to admit early that his behavior is illegal is concerning,” District Judge Dabney Friedrich said before handing down the 87-month sentence. “And I want to be very clear…under no legitimate definition of the term ‘patriot’ (does) Mr. Reffitt’s behavior on and about January 6 fit the term. It is the antithesis of the word.”
Friedrich added, “Capitol officers are the patriots, as well as those who fought and even died to protect our democracy, our rule of law…those in the mob are not. Not only are they not not patriots, they’re a direct threat to our democracy and will be punished as such.”
Reffitt was found guilty by a DC jury in March of five felonies, including carrying and carrying a firearm on Capitol grounds, interfering with Capitol police and obstructing a proceeding. official. He had traveled to DC with several firearms, including one he carried with him on the Capitol steps during the early hours of the riot.
“I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every goddamn stairway on my way out. … And (Republican leader) Mitch McConnell too,” Reffitt said, according to a Jan. 6 video recording he made of himself. .
The heavy sentence, coupled with the fact that every Jan. 6 defendant facing a jury has been convicted, could deter some of the hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants awaiting trial from accepting plea deals instead. the Ministry of Justice.
The 87-month sentence is two years longer than any other Capitol riot prison sentence handed down to date.
Reffitt was adamant in previous hearings about being the first Jan. 6 defendant to bring his case to trial. But on Monday, pleading for clemency ahead of his sentencing, he said he was a “fucking idiot” who kept repeating “founding fathers and bullshit like that” around January 6, and that he doubled down on this rhetoric to “save money” for his family during his legal battle.
“It sounds like you wanted to be the big guy, the important guy, the first to be judged… the first to bask in the press,” Friedrich told Reffitt. “You want to be an important person who makes a difference, and yet you go about it in all the wrong ways.”
“What I meant, your honor,” Reffitt said.
Reffitt’s wife and two daughters were in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. Reffitt’s youngest daughter, Peyton, told the judge that her father was “no threat to my family” and that her family were “turning a blind eye” to her mental health issues.
“My dad’s name wasn’t on all the flags that were there that day, that everybody was carrying that day. He’s not the leader,” Peyton said in tears, stopping sometimes with his hand on his heart.
The mother of Ashli Babbitt, the pro-Trump rioter who was fatally shot by police on Jan. 6, was also at times in the courtroom on Monday.
Reffitt’s son Jackson, who testified against his father at trial, was not in the courtroom. In a statement read aloud by prosecutors, Jackson said his father “has been slowly lost over the past five years,” but that “whether you think of him as a father, a family member, or a friend , use these labels to justify everything he did is completely wrong.”
Prosecutors had requested a sentence nearly a decade longer than the harshest sentence to date by adding enhanced sentences to his terrorism sentence. Prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler told the judge that Reffitt “wanted to physically and literally remove members of Congress from power” and that the government believed “what he was doing that day was terrorism.”
“We believe this is a domestic terrorist,” Nestler said Monday.
Friedrich, however, did not add additional sentences for terrorism, saying it would create an “unwarranted disparity” between Reffitt’s sentence and that of other rioters convicted of bringing weapons or threatening lawmakers.
This story has been updated with additional details.