Defense attorney William Welch kept his closing arguments short Monday. Jurors were ultimately sent to deliberate by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, early Tuesday morning.
Reffitt did not testify on his own behalf. His attorney, who anchored Reffitt’s defense to a penchant for bombast and exaggeration, told jurors they should not convict for any felony charges, only the misdemeanor of being on restricted grounds.
At trial, jurors reviewed dozens of messages and remarks the FBI found on Reffitt’s social media accounts and devices. They reviewed footage he shot with a camera he had strapped to his helmet during the melee.
They also produced audio recordings and digital clips, including one from a Zoom conference call where Reffitt proudly regaled fellow Texas Three Percenters with his experience on Jan. 6.
“I said, ‘Baby, you’re going to need a bigger gun than that,’” Reffitt said on the call. “They’re lucky we didn’t shoot them. I mean they really need to be grateful.”
He was referencing his interaction with former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shauni Kerkhoff.
Kerkhoff, who testified against Reffitt at the start of the trial last week, told jurors she fired over two dozen pepper balls to stop Reffitt from advancing up the Capitol stairs.
Aiming first at fleshier parts of his body, he was undeterred. Aiming for bonier parts of the body next, he kept coming. Reffitt was wearing a protective vest and helmet.
Every step he took, the massive sea of rioters behind him would take that as a cue to keep coming, Kerkhoff told jurors.
“It was becoming a dire situation,” Kerkhoff said.
Welch also argued jurors should question the very reliability of video footage from Jan. 6 that shows Reffitt, helmet on head and gun on hip, leading the mob up the stairs of the Capitol inch by inch.
It was not until Reffitt was doused with chemical irritants that he relented. As the pepper spray stung him, however, he still raised his arm to wave rioters in.
On that Zoom call, Reffitt relived the moment.
“Go forward! Go forward!” Reffitt recalled himself telling fellow militia members, noting as well a gun that he carried on him that day.
Prosecutors showed jurors photographs of Reffitt wearing what appeared to be a holstered handgun at his hip as he descended on the Capitol. They contend it matches the description of the gun Reffitt bragged about bringing to Washington on the Zoom call with his militia buddies.
“Guy does brag a lot. He embellishes, he exaggerates,” Welch told jurors Monday, according to Business Insider. “He uses a lot of hyperbole that upsets people.”
According to BuzzFeed, Welch invoked ex-President Donald Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani to defend Reffitt’s action. Welch pointed to their remarks at the Ellipse the morning of the attack.
Giuliani called on the crowd to have “trial by combat” to determine the election results, while Trump told frothing supporters to “fight like hell.”
That was overblown rhetoric, according to Welch. The same was true for Reffitt’s language, he said.
That would include the tirades Reffitt shouted—and captured with his own camera—as he prepared to storm the Capitol.
“I just want to see Pelosi’s head hitting every fucking stair on the way out—and Mitch McConnell, too,” Reffitt is heard saying.
Then: “We’re taking the Capitol before the day is over, ripping them out by their hair. Every fucking one of them.”
In a Telegram message, someone messaged Reffitt to suggest the only way anyone could “do anything in D.C.” on Jan. 6 would be by force.
“I don’t think anyone going to D.C. has any other agenda,” Reffitt replied.
After the attack, he messaged friends on Telegram.
“We took the Capitol of the United States of America. What have you done today? … Multiple clay bullets and a battle cry like in Braveheart. The insurrection began immediately after,” Reffitt wrote on Jan. 6.
Upon receiving partial immunity, Rocky Hardie, a fellow Texas Three Percenter, took the witness stand against Reffitt and testified that he knew it was illegal to bring guns into the district.
“I think we used the phrase, ‘It’s better to be tried by a jury of 12 than carried by six,” Hardie said, making a reference to pallbearers.
According to Business Insider, U.S. attorney Risa Berkower was quick to remind jurors of this account at close.
“He was itching to be judged by you, the jury of 12, and now we’re here,” Berkower said.
Hardie and Reffitt separated once Reffitt started making his way up the staircase. They stayed in contact for a time, though, as people streamed over barricades and fencing, then up the walls and inside of the Capitol.
Hardie told jurors he never thought they would get as close to the Capitol as they did.
“I wasn’t going to go up there,” Hardie said.
While Hardie received partial immunity for testifying against Reffitt, prosecutors have not yet completely ruled out bringing charges against him for possible crimes committed during the assault.
Jurors will also consider emotional testimony delivered by Jackson Reffitt, Guy’s 19-year-old son. Guy cried as Jackson took the stand and told jurors how scared and nervous he was when he finally decided to alert the FBI about his father’s increasingly erratic behavior.
On Christmas Eve 2020, Reffitt texted Jackson, his wife, and his daughter. He warned what was soon ahead would “shock the world” and that removing lawmakers from Congress was “why I’m going to D.C.” he wrote.
As Jackson later watched the assault unfold on television, he told jurors he was in awe and disappointed.
“I was terrified, I believe we all were, for the people there, what’s going to happen, as well as at a loss for words,” Politico reported.
Jackson decided to record his father after he came back from Washington.
“If no one actually believed me, what my father had done and is saying, that is better than his word against mine,” he said of the decision.
It made him feel “gross” and “uncomfortable” but it was better safe than sorry, he explained. Reffitt would eventually come to threaten his son and daughter, telling them days after the Capitol assault if they ratted him out, he would sort them out.
“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and traitors get shot,” Jackson Reffitt recalled his father telling him.
In one of the recordings obtained by his son, Guy can be heard speaking of his experience as near spiritual.
“I didn’t make it in, but I started the fire. I was willing to die when I was there … I was willing to die … I had a very epic point in my life, actually,” he said.
Reffitt did not have any remarks on Tuesday after jurors rendered the verdict. According to NBC News, he “fiddled” with his mask and talked to his lawyer as Judge Dabney set his next court date.
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