US court sentences Jan 6 rioter to more than seven years

An associate of the far-right Three Percenters militia has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for joining a mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and later threatening to harm his children if they reported him to the FBI.

Guy Reffitt of Wylie, Texas, was convicted by a jury in March of five felony charges, including bringing a gun onto the Capitol grounds and obstructing an official proceeding.

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich issued a sentence of seven years and three months on Monday — the longest yet for anyone involved in the riot. To date, federal prosecutors have won convictions in all but one of 13 trials tied to the Capitol attack, which sought to keep Congress from certifying former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

Previously, the longest sentence for a January 6 case had been 63 months, but in those two cases, the defendants opted not to go to trial and to plead guilty instead.

Friedrich on Monday also sentenced Reffitt to three years supervised release, a period she said she would oversee herself to police him for any violations. She additionally banned him from associating with militia groups and ordered him to undergo mental health treatment.

Earlier Monday, the judge said she was troubled by Reffitt’s actions and comments suggesting he wanted to overthrow Congress, calling his statements “frightening claims that border on delusional”.

“In democracy, we respect a peaceful transfer of power,” she said. “The election was challenged in multiple courts across the country, and judge after judge said there’s no merit to these claims.”

Friedrich declined to apply a domestic terrorism enhancement to her sentence — the first requested in a January 6 case — even though the lead federal prosecutor and a former Capitol Police officer who provided a victim impact statement both said they believed Reffitt committed an act of terrorism that day.

Reffitt “intended to harm members of Congress,” former Capitol Police officer Shauni Kerkhoff told the court, adding that she “watched in horror as he encouraged the angry mob to push past”.