They Convicted Him on the Way to the Jury Room

A federal jury on Tuesday swiftly convicted the first accused Jan. 6 rioter to go on trial even as prosecutors announced they had expanded their inquiry by indicting a former leader of the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group that played a prominent role in the Capitol attack.

After only three hours of deliberations, the jury found the defendant in the trial, Guy Wesley Reffitt, guilty on five counts. They included obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election by helping to lead a pro-Trump mob in an advance against the police that resulted in the first violent breach of the building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Reffitt was also convicted of wearing an illegal pistol on his hip during the attack and of later threatening his teenage son and daughter to keep them from turning him in to the authorities. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction count alone.

The trial, in Federal District Court in Washington, was an important victory for the Justice Department, which has only just begun the marathon process of bringing to trial what could be scores of rioters accused of storming the Capitol or assaulting the police outside it.


The trial of Mr. Reffitt, an oil-field worker from Wylie, Texas, just outside Dallas, offered an early glimpse of the exhaustive evidence that prosecutors have collected. The weeklong proceeding featured testimony from police officers, a Secret Service agent, one of Mr. Reffitt’s compatriots in the Texas Three Percenters militia group and Mr. Reffitt’s teenage son.


Some of the most dramatic testimony at the trial came from Mr. Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, who told the jury about how the toxic politics of the Trump era had caused a painful rupture in the family. The tensions boiled over, Jackson said, after Mr. Reffitt returned to Texas after storming the Capitol and told him and his sister not to sell their father out to the authorities.

“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,’” Jackson Reffitt testified as his father sat across the courtroom, unable to meet his eye. “‘And traitors get shot.’”



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