• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023


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Guy Wesley Reffitt Is Convicted in First Jan. 6 Trial

After packing his wife’s car with body armor, plastic hand ties, a .40-caliber pistol and an AR-style assault rifle, prosecutors said, he drove 2,000 miles to Washington with another member of the Three Percenters, a loosely organized militia movement that takes its name from the supposed 3 percent of the colonial population that fought against the British.

Documenting his actions with a GoPro-like camera mounted on his helmet — or what he called his “bump cap” — Mr. Reffitt filmed himself moving among the crowd outside the Capitol, repeatedly urging people to storm the building and drag lawmakers like Speaker Nancy Pelosi out by their hair or their ankles. He then led a section of the mob up a staircase of the building, pushing through a hail of pepper balls and other projectiles until he was finally subdued with chemical spray, according to the officers who fought him off.

Some of the most dramatic testimony at the trial came from Mr. Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, who, during more than three hours on the stand, told the jury about how the toxic politics of the Trump era had caused a painful rupture in the family. The tensions boiled over, Jackson said, after a boastful Mr. Reffitt returned to Texas after storming the Capitol and told him and sister not to sell their father out to the authorities.

“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,’” Jackson Reffitt testified as his father sat across the courtroom unable to meet his eye. “‘And traitors get shot.’”

Mr. Reffitt’s lawyer, William L. Welch, put on a muted and abbreviated defense, starting with an opening statement that lasted not much more than three minutes. He called no witnesses and presented no evidence, but argued to the jury that prosecutors had rushed to charge his client, who, he claimed, had never physically assaulted the police.

A wild card in the case is whether or not Judge Dabney L. Friedrich decides after the jury’s verdict to toss out the government’s central obstruction charge against Mr. Reffitt — a count the government has used in hundreds of similar cases instead of more politically fraught crimes like sedition or insurrection.

In the months leading up to the trial, several defense lawyers, including Mr. Welch, challenged the use of the obstruction law, claiming that prosecutors had stretched it beyond its original design as a way to curb activities like shredding documents or tampering with witnesses in congressional inquiries.