DOJ seeks longer sentence for Capitol rioter they labeled as a home terrorist

WASHINGTON — The Justice Division is searching for so as to add years to a Jan. 6 defendant’s sentence, arguing for the primary time that one of many rioters dedicated an act of home terrorism and, thus ought to get a heavier sentence of 15 years in federal jail.

Man Reffitt, the Texas IIIpercenter extremist who was discovered responsible on all 5 counts in March, shall be sentenced on August 1. He was the primary Jan. 6 defendant to go to trial.

Reffitt tried to storm the U.S. Capitol with a gun and zip ties and deliberate to focus on Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, prosecutors mentioned, however he was pepper sprayed earlier than he was capable of enter the constructing. Prosecutors used Reffitt’s personal phrases in opposition to him at trial, in addition to testimony from the son who turned him in, arguing he “lit the match“ on the west facet of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a court docket submitting on Friday, federal prosecutors indicated they might search a terrorism sentencing enhancement in Reffitt’s case, arguing that the necessity “to discourage others is very robust as a result of Reffitt engaged in acts of violence that have been supposed to affect the federal government by way of intimidation or coercion — acts which have been outlined, by statute, as home terrorism.”

Home terrorism — which means terrorism that’s carried out on behalf of a “home” ideology, slightly than a “overseas” ideology — isn’t against the law in and of itself, so prosecutors usually formally label a person as a home terrorist in the course of the sentencing course of.

A shirt recovered from Guy Reffitt's home
A shirt recovered from Man Reffitt’s house that states, “when tyranny turns into regulation, riot turns into responsibility.”United States District Court docket for D.C.

Whereas officers have repeatedly referred to the lethal assault on the U.S. Capitol as an act of home terrorism, the submitting marked the primary time that the Justice Division sought a terrorism enhancement in any particular Jan. 6 case.

“The division could be very considered about deploying the time period within the first occasion, and usually will solely achieve this within the backend of litigation when the information and circumstances are going to be clear,” a Justice Division official defined in 2018.

Prosecutors wrote Friday that these circumstances have been particularly clear in Reffitt’s case. “Clearly, attacking the USA Capitol — the legislative seat of our authorities — whereas the whole complement of legislators and the Vice President of the USA are inside performing their constitutional and statutory duties is a robust indication of intent to affect or retaliate in opposition to the federal government,” prosecutors wrotee

An unregistered silencer
An unregistered silencer that might be threaded onto a firearm, each of which have been recovered at Reffitt’s house.United States District Court docket for D.C.

“It’s clear from Reffitt’s conduct, together with his categorical and implied intent, that Reffitt sought not simply to cease Congress, but additionally to bodily assault, take away, and change the legislators who have been serving in Congress,” they wrote. “This can be a quintessential instance of an intent to each affect and retaliate in opposition to authorities conduct by way of intimidation or coercion.”

Reffitt’s protection legal professional, in a separate sentencing memo, sought not more than 24 months in federal jail.

If a decide sends Reffitt to jail for wherever close to the time period that prosecutors are searching for, his sentence can be the longest in a Jan. 6 case to date. The longest sentence thus far was in opposition to Robert Scott Palmer, a Florida man who was recognized by on-line sleuths after he emptied a fireplace extinguisher into police after which chucked it at officers, all whereas carrying an American flag jacket emblazoned with Donald Trump’s identify. He was sentenced to 63 months in December.