Family drama will be sure to pervade the debut trial for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Two children of accused militia member Guy Reffitt, including the son who flagged his father to the FBI, will be called as government witnesses, prosecutors confirmed in a filing on Monday.
His son Jackson Reffitt had previously flagged his father to the FBI with concerns about his increasingly violent rhetoric. When the FBI called him to ask if his father was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jackson—notwithstanding Reffitt’s threat—said yes.
Prosecutors say Reffitt was armed when he joined the hundreds of Donald Trump supporters who overran police and breached the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election. Charges against him include obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, obstruction of justice through physical force or threat of physical force, and entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
His trial is scheduled to start on Feb. 28. It will be the first case in the government’s sprawling prosecution of the Jan. 6 defendants.
In the government’s witness list filed Monday, prosecutors describe Jackson as follows:
“J.R. is the defendant’s son. He was 18 years old in January 2021. He will explain that he first contacted the FBI about his father in December 2020. He will further explain that he was aware that his father had left the family’s home in Texas to go to Washington, D.C., and that his father sent group texts to the family while he was away. J.R. will introduce two of those texts, from around January 7, 2021: Ex. 212.1, in which the defendant sends a link to a Fox News segment depicting the defendant, and Ex. 212.2, in which the defendant circles himself in yellow on videos from news segments.
J.R. will explain that, using his cell phone, he recorded his father speaking to the family while at home around January 9 and 10, 2021. He will introduce and authenticate five of these audio recordings: Exs. 214 through 218. When playing these five audio files for the jury, the government intends to display corresponding transcripts (Exs. 214T through 218T) to aid the jury’s comprehension.
J.R. will further testify about a threat the defendant made to him that, after the defendant returned to Texas from Washington, D.C., about cooperating with the FBI’s investigation into the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He will testify to the words the defendant used, why he perceived them to be a threat and took them seriously, and the steps he took to secure his own safety after that incident.”
The government will also call Reffitt’s daughter, Peyton Reffitt, to testify about her father’s alleged threats.
“P.R. is the defendant’s daughter. She was 16 years old in January 2021. The government expects her to generally testify that she was with her brother and father in the family’s kitchen when she heard her father tell them that if they turned him in to law enforcement, they would be traitors, and that traitors get shot. She will also testify that she believed the defendant was intending to intimidate her and her brother to not contact the police or FBI about the defendant’s involvement in the riot at the Capitol.”
The role of Reffitt’s kids as witnesses for the government highlights the painful family dynamic that thrust the Reffitt family into the public eye. According to an in-depth VICE News profile, Jackson’s decision to flag his father to federal authorities has all but torn the family apart. He has cut off almost all contact with the family, while his sisters, Peyton and Sarah Reffitt, have defended their father, even though they have said that they don’t support his decision to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and they have indicated that they think Reffitt, who has been kept in custody since his arrest in January 2021, is a “political prisoner,” according to the VICE News report.
Reffitts’ wife, Nicole Reffitt, fully supports her husband’s decision to go to the Capitol, and told VICE News that he had his weapons with him simply because he always travels with them; at the same time, according to the story, she doesn’t blame Jackson for calling the feds.
Another notable witness on the government’s list is a man identified only as R.H. who claims he was part of the Three Percenters, a militia group that bases its name on the false belief that the number of Americans who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War amounted to only three percent of the population at the time.
“R.H., a fellow member of the defendant’s Texas Three Percenter militia group, traveled with the defendant from Texas to Washington, D.C., and back between January 4 and 8, 2021. He will testify about how he knows the defendant, discussions he had with the defendant, their travel arrangements, the defendant’s firearms and tactical gear, and the defendant’s movements and actions.
R.H. will also testify that he was given immunity for his testimony and will introduce an immunity letter from the government (Ex. 405).”
Another name on the witness list is Special Agent Laird Hightower, who will testify about the type of holster Reffitt was seen carrying at the Capitol on Jan. 6. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, recently ruled that prosecutors could call Hightower as a witness.
[Images via court filings/FBI.]
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