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North Texas man convicted in Capitol riot trial files motion for new trial

Guy Reffitt's attorneys had filed a motion to have him acquitted after his trial, but the motion was denied.
Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

WASHINGTON — The attorney for the North Texas man who was the first suspect convicted at trial in the U.S. Capitol riot last year have filed a motion for a new trial, according to court documents in Washington D.C.

The motion for Guy Reffitt argued that evidence was insufficient in his case, which resulted in Reffitt being found guilty on five felony counts stemming from the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Reffitt's attorney, William Welch, also filed a motion to acquit Reffitt on all counts, again arguing that evidence was insufficient; and a motion to "arrest judgement" on one of his obstruction counts, arguing the court does not have jurisdiction in the case.

Welch had filed a motion to have Reffitt acquitted after the trial, but the motion was denied.

Reffitt is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8.

Reffitt's motions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In the motion for a new trial, Welch wrote that Reffitt was hit with pepper balls, "weighted plastic impact projectiles" and pepper sprayed during the incident at the Capitol.

"As soon as he was pepper sprayed, that was the end of it, and he sat down on the banister railing," Welch wrote in the motion.

RELATED: Surprise guilty plea upends Capitol riot hearing in bid to preempt new indictment

In the motion for Reffitt's acquittal, Welch wrote that it was only after the government gave another suspect immunity that the suspect claimed him and Reffitt brought weapons to Washington.

The suspect also said the weapons he and Reffitt had were for self defense.

The motion also argued that Reffitt never tried to assault anyone, did not help anyone commit assault and "was not aggressive."

After Reffitt was found guilty on March 8, Reffitt's wife, Nicole, had promised that her husband would appeal the verdict.

Reffitt was arrested two weeks after the riot and indicted on two counts of obstruction, two counts of civil disorder and one count of entering and remaining a restricted grounds with a firearm. Each obstruction count carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The case, the first from Jan. 6 to go to trial, served as a stress test for the Justice Department’s use of a post-Enron obstruction statute. Reffitt was one of dozens of defendants who challenged it in court, arguing the law only applied to obstructing judicial proceedings and not the joint session of Congress. 

Friedrich and nine other judges on the D.C. District Court agreed with prosecutors, however, and let the charge stand.

In Reffitt's case, jurors convicted him on the obstruction charge even though he never made it into the U.S. Capitol Building and wasn't accused of conspiracy. That could signal an easier path for prosecutors seeking to convict more than 150 other obstruction defendants — many of whom are accused not only of entering the Capitol but of assaulting police and pushing all the way into the Senate Chamber.

Reffitt was not simply an aggrieved supporter of former President Donald Trump, who had come to D.C. to vent his spleen, prosecutors told jurors – he was a militia extremist with a specific plan in mind.

"He told anyone within earshot he planned to storm the Capitol that afternoon," assistant U.S. attorney Risa Berkower said. "He said it over and over again.”

Thanks to a helmet-mounted camera he wore on Jan. 6, jurors heard Reffitt say just that. He told other rallygoers at the Ellipse that he “came hot” and was “packing heat” and that Jan. 6 was “the last day of the war.” Jurors heard Reffitt attempting to recruit others to join him later at the Capitol.

“We’re taking the Capitol after this before the day is out,” he could be heard at one point on the video. “Dragging them out f***ing kicking and screaming.”

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