Washington: A jury found a Texas man guilty of all charges on Tuesday in the first criminal trial stemming from the attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.
Guy Reffitt, 49, was convicted of bringing a gun to Washington, interfering with police and impeding an official proceeding - the certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.
Reffitt, a member of a right-wing militia group called the Texas Three Percenters, was also found guilty of obstruction for threatening his teenaged son and daughter if they spoke to law enforcement about his involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
Reffitt’s then 18-year-old son did go to the FBI despite his father’s warning that “traitors get shot” and delivered emotional testimony against his father in court.
Reffitt, an oil industry worker from Wylie, Texas, was the first person to go on trial on charges stemming from the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress.
The case, which was tried in a federal court in Washington, was closely watched for its potential bearing on future prosecutions of other Capitol riot defendants.
The 12-person jury deliberated for just a couple of hours before finding Reffitt guilty of all five charges against him.
“Guy Reffitt lit the fire of the very first group of rioters that breached the Capitol,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said in closing arguments. “The vigilante mob was ignited by the defendant.”
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Video of Reffitt confronting police on the steps of the Capitol and urging on the pro-Trump crowd was played for the jury during four days of testimony.
Prosecutors also displayed text messages from Reffitt in which he promised to drag lawmakers out of Congress “by their hair.”
“The election didn’t yield the results he wanted so he took matters into his own hands,” Berkower said.
Reffitt was wearing body armor and a helmet, carrying zip-tie handcuffs and armed with a .40 caliber handgun when he arrived at the Capitol, according to prosecutors.
More than 750 people have been arrested for their roles in the January 6 attack.
Nearly 220 people have pleaded guilty to various charges but Reffitt pleaded not guilty and was the first person to go on trial.
He could face up to 20 years in prison.
The storming of the Capitol left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured and followed a fiery speech by Trump to thousands of his supporters near the White House.
Trump was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the Capitol riot - he was charged with inciting an insurrection - but was acquitted by the Senate.