A Texas man convicted of storming the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, with a handgun was sentenced Monday to seven years and three months in prison, the longest sentence so far in the riot.
Guy Reffitt was the first person to go on trial for the attack in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump temporarily halted the joint session of Congress for certifying Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.
Prosecutors said Reffitt told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol by her ankles, "with her head hitting every step on the way down", according to a court filing.
Reffitt was armed with a pistol in a holster on his waist, carried zip-tie handcuffs and wore body armor and a helmet equipped with a video camera when he advanced on the Capitol police officers, according to prosecutors. He retreated after an officer pepper-sprayed him in the face, but he waved on other rioters who ultimately breached the building, prosecutors said.
Sentencing guidelines calculated by the court's probation department called for a sentence ranging from nine years to 11 years and three months. Prosecutors requested a 15-year prison term, saying Reffitt's actions amounted to terrorism.
At the sentencing hearing on Monday in federal court in Washington DC, Judge Dabney Friedrich disagreed, citing other Jan 6 cases in which prosecutors didn't seek such a sentence enhancement.
Defense attorney Clinton Broden asked for Reffitt to be sentenced to no more than two years in prison. Broden said Reffitt didn't assault any law enforcement officers or enter the Capitol building. He already has been jailed for approximately 19 months.
Two other defendants who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers at the Capitol received sentences of 63 months earlier this year for their roles in the attack.
Addressing the court during Monday's hearing, Reffitt admitted he acted like a "idiot" on Jan 6 and said he regretted his actions, apologizing to Congress and the officers he encountered that day.
"I was a little too crazy," he told the judge. "I was not thinking clearly."
The judge said it was difficult not to see the apology as anything but "halfhearted", particularly given some conspiratorial statements he has made about the events of Jan 6 since his arrest.
"What he and others who attacked the Capitol on Jan 6 did is the antithesis of patriotism," the judge said before handing down the sentence.
Reffitt, a 49-year-old former oil industry rig manager, will also be on probation for three years upon his release and must pay a $2,000 fine.
He didn't testify at his trial in March when he was convicted of all five counts in his indictment. The jury found him guilty of obstructing Congress' joint session, of interfering with police officers outside the Capitol and of threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement.
After the riot, Reffitt warned his son and then-16-year-old daughter that "if you turn me in, you're a traitor, and traitors get shot", his son, Jackson, 19, testified at the trial.
Reffitt lived with his wife and children in Wylie, Texas, a Dallas suburb.
More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. Over 340 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. More than 220 have been sentenced, with nearly half of them receiving terms of imprisonment. Approximately 150 others have trial dates stretching into 2023.