Guy Wesley Reffitt's first January 6 trial begins Monday

When the first trial stemming from the attack on the Capitol opens on Monday, it will set the stage for prosecutors to do more than just...


When the first trial stemming from the attack on the Capitol opens on Monday, it will set the stage for prosecutors to do more than just expose the details of how the accused, Guy Wesley Reffitt, sought to storm the building with a hip-gun.

For the first time in a courtroom, they will present a broad portrait of the violent chaos that erupted that day and seek to persuade a jury that the pro-Trump mob Mr Reffitt is accused of joining struck at the heart of American democracy by disrupting the transition of presidential power.

The trial, which will take place in federal district court in Washington and begin Monday morning with jury selection, may not be the brightest or most important of the dozens of Capitol riot cases due be judged this year.

But because he’s the first to reach a courtroom, he’ll most likely set the tone for those who follow and serve as something of a testing ground for charges brought by prosecutors against hundreds of defendants. (More than 200 people have already pleaded guilty in cases related to the Capitol attack.)

At the heart of Mr. Reffitt’s case is the charge that the defendant, an oil industry worker with alleged ties to a Texas militia, obstructed the work of Congress to January 6, 2021when a joint session of the House and Senate met to certify the results of the 2020 election. Prosecutors say he donned a bulletproof vest and a helmet mounted with a video camera, and s’ is placed at the “front of the pack” that charged the Capitol.

The obstruction charge — one of five counts against him — has been used in place of other crimes like sedition or insurrection in many Capitol Riot cases to describe the disturbances that happened when the mob forced lawmakers to flee.

Passed in 2002 as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which aimed to curb corporate malfeasance, the obstruction provision was originally intended to prohibit activities such as document shredding or witness tampering in congressional investigations. .

Several defense lawyers – including Mr Reffitt – have tried to have the charge dismissed, arguing that prosecutors had stretched it far beyond its scope and were trying to criminalize behavior that looked too much like ordinary protected manifestation by the First Amendment.

But 10 federal judges – including Dabney L. Friedrich, who is overseeing Mr. Reffitt’s case – disagreed and allowed the use of the charge. The Reffitt trial will be the first time a jury can decide whether the charge fits the crime, although in an unusual move Judge Friedrich said she would quash the count before it goes to trial. jury if the government fails to prove its case. .

Beyond these technical issues, the trial will present what amounts to a panoramic view of the violence on Capitol Hill.

Prosecutors said, for example, they intended to prove their claim that a ‘civil disturbance’ had occurred that day by showing the jury ‘the progress of the riot’ through a compilation surveillance videos of the exterior and interior of the building. The jury are also expected to see clips from a 31-minute video Mr Reffitt recorded during the riot as well as a clip of Vice President Mike Pence rushing down a flight of stairs after assailants entered the building.

Three Capitol Police officers are to testify about their direct attempts to stop Mr. Reffitt — and others — from breaching security by firing pepper balls and spraying tear gas into the crowd. One of those officers, Shauni Kerkhoff, is expected to be the trial’s first witness, prosecutors said.

Mr. Reffitt’s attorney, William L. Welch III, hasn’t said much about the defense he intends to mount, but his client has openly pushed back against accusations that he participated in anything unfortunate at the Capitol. In a letter obtained by ProPublica last springMr Reffitt wrote of the attack, “There was no insurrection, no conspiracy, no sinister plan and no reason to believe otherwise.”

On Thursday, a post purportedly written by Mr Reffitt was posted on the ‘J6 Patriot News’ channel on Telegram, discussing the ‘start of 6/1 political prisoner trials’.

“I am ready to gaze at the barrel of tyranny to receive the bullet of freedom,” the message read.

The case is one of many that will present evidence about the US militia movement. Prosecutors say Mr. Reffitt was a member of the Texas Three Percenters, one of several state chapters of a larger organization that focuses on gun rights and anti-government activity.

While the Three Percenters may not be as prominent as other far-right groups like the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, several alleged members of the movement have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including at least four from Southern California.

To prove Mr. Reffitt’s ties to the militia, prosecutors are set to call as a witness a Three Percenter colleague who plans to testify under an immunity deal with the government. They say the witness – known for now only by the initials RH – intends to tell the jury the arrangements he made with Mr Reffitt to travel to Washington and the firearms and equipment tactics, including an assault rifle, which Mr. Reffitt brought. the trip.

Two members of Mr Reffitt’s family – his son and daughter – are also expected to take a stand against him.

Prosecutors say the son, who was 18 at the time of the attack, will tell the jury that he and his sister, then 16, spoke with their father when he returned from Washington after the riot and that Mr. Reffitt threatened to shoot them if they went to the FBI about him.

At an earlier hearing, the girl said Mr Reffitt had threatened to put a bullet in her mobile phone if she posted about him on social media.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guy Wesley Reffitt's first January 6 trial begins Monday
Guy Wesley Reffitt's first January 6 trial begins Monday
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