“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,'” Jackson Reffitt said as his father sat across the courtroom, unable to meet his gaze. “‘And traitors get shot.'”
Mr. Reffitt’s attorney, William L. Welch, presented a muted and abbreviated defense, beginning with an opening statement that didn’t last much longer than three minutes. He called no witnesses and presented no evidence, but argued to the jury that prosecutors had rushed to charge his client, who he said had never physically assaulted police.
A wild card in the case is whether Judge Dabney L. Friedrich decides in the coming days to dismiss the central charge of government obstruction against Mr. Reffitt – a charge the government has used in hundreds of similar cases instead of more politically tense crimes like sedition or insurrection.
The Aftermath of Capitol Riot: Key Developments
In the months leading up to the trial, several defense attorneys, including Mr. Welch, challenged the use of the obstruction law, saying prosecutors had extended it beyond its original intent in order to curb activities such as document shredding or witness tampering. Congressional investigations.
But 10 federal judges — including Judge Friedrich — upheld the law, saying it could be used.
A single federal judge in Washington, Carl J. Nichols, said the law did not apply to the attack on the Capitol, tossing out the charge in the case of another Texas rioter on Monday.
Judge Friedrich ruled before the start of the trial that she could dismiss the charge if she did not believe the evidence supported the allegation that Mr. Reffitt had acted “in a corrupt manner” in disrupting the work of Congress, such as required by law.
To that end, prosecutors have sought to show he acted corruptly, not only presenting evidence that he confronted officers outside the Capitol, but also that he waved at the crowd. to continue his assault on the building even after being subdued.