A Texas man convicted of storming the US Capitol with a handgun, helmet and body armour has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the longest sentence imposed so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.
Prosecutors said Guy Reffitt told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol building by her ankles, “with her head hitting every step on the way down”, according to a court filing.
Reffitt’s prison sentence — seven years and three months — is two years more than the previous longest prison sentence for a Capitol riot defendant.
But it is less than half the length of the 15-year prison term requested by a federal prosecutor, who called Reffitt a domestic terrorist and said he wanted to physically remove and replace members of Congress.
Reffitt was the first person to go on trial for the January 6, 2021 attack in Washington DC, in which supporters of then-president Donald Trump halted the joint session of Congress for certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
US District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who presided over Reffitt’s jury trial, also sentenced him to three years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay 2,000 dollars in restitution.
Sentencing guidelines calculated by the judge called for a term of imprisonment ranging from seven years and three months to nine years.
Mr Friedrich rejected prosecutors’ contention that an “upward departure for terrorism” — leading to a far longer sentence — was warranted in Reffitt’s case. It was the first time that prosecutors have requested that sentencing enhancement for a January 6 case.
“He wanted to physically and literally remove Congress,” Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told the judge. “We do believe that he is a domestic terrorist.”
Mr Friedrich, however, questioned why Reffitt would merit the terrorism enhancement when many other rioters engaged in violence and made similarly disturbing threats.
The longest sentence before Reffitt’s was five years and three months, for two men who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers at the Capitol.