“I don’t regret it, but it’s a lot,” Jackson Refitt said. “I don’t have words to describe it. I think this is the best scenario,” he said at the end of his testimony.
According to Jackson Refitt, before the 2016 election, he and his father were very close. But Guy Refitt “turned into a far-right extremist” and his son became increasingly paranoid.
On Thursday, the long-haired young man spoke almost in a whisper at times, making long pauses as he talked about his fears and his father’s politics. He confirmed text messages between his parents, sisters, and himself discussing the Capitol riots, and he listened to audio clips of family banter, which then turned into a discussion about guns being illegal to carry on federal property.
“You smuggled weapons into federal territory,” Jackson Refit told his father.
“Okay…Which of these is against the law?” Guy Refit replied that written laws are not always correct. “We have made a point. … You will know that your father was there when a great historical event took place in this country.”
Jackson Refitt testified that he signed up his father because “I thought no one would believe me,” and he met with an FBI agent at a local restaurant because “I wanted to talk to someone,” he said.
Evidence is presented to jurors to prove that Guy Reffit was in D.C., that he took part in the Capitol riot while carrying a gun, and that he threatened his children to keep quiet afterwards. Guy Reffitt’s youngest daughter, Peyton, called “Peter Pats” in the family text thread, is due to testify near the end of the trial.
Reffit stood trial on five counts. He is accused of carrying a gun into the Capitol, obstructing two policemen outside the building, and threatening his children when he returned home. Refit pleaded not guilty.
Family home in Texas
When his son first performed, Guy Refit’s face turned red and he began to cry. Nicole Reffit watched from the gallery and at one point signaled to her husband as she, too, held back her emotions, observers in the courtroom noted.
Family members left the courtroom separately: Jackson Refitt finished his testimony for prosecutors, his father returned to prison, and his mother walked out with other family members who are watching the process.
“Today was really hard. I don’t feel like talking,” Nicole Refitt told the media outside the courthouse.
Jackson Refitt began his testimony by describing a typical family. Children and parents often joked with each other, both through the group message chain and in person.
But Jackson Refitt made it clear that he disagreed with his father’s far-right political beliefs, explaining that his father wore a Trump hat nearly every day and carried his Smith & Wesson pistol in a holster “virtually all the time.” According to his son, he would have been on his bedside table if not on his hip.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Guy Reffit carried a .40 Smith & Wesson to the Capitol grounds during the uprising, where he was at the front of the crowd in an altercation with the police as the crowd moved forward.
“It’s my father’s gun on the nightstand,” Jackson Refitt said unemotionally when a photo of the nightstand was shown in the courtroom.
The jurors were also shown photographs of a gun safe in a closet adjoining the master bedroom and what Jackson Refitt described as his father’s automatic rifle. Guy Refitt’s white pickup was also featured in the photos, as was Nicole Refitt’s blue Chevrolet Equinox. Both had stickers with stars and cartridges symbolizing the Three Percent, a right-wing anti-government group in which Guy Reffit was active and whose meetings before and after January 6 play a role in the prosecutor’s office.
FBI son’s first clue
Jackson Refitt described under oath how he decided to report his father to the FBI for his political extremism.
The decision comes as Jackson Refitt’s political differences and text jokes with his father escalated following the 2020 election.
Guy Reffit wrote to his son to “hold my beer” to see what he would do and what “there will be about tyranny”.
“The entire legislative chamber has done unthinkable things against our people,” Guy Reffit wrote to his son. “We’ve had enough.”
Jackson Refitt said his father’s talk made him “paranoid” and increased his anxiety.
“After seeing these messages and reading them, my paranoia really went away, so I decided to ease some of the worry on my shoulders and file a tip with the FBI,” he told jurors.
At home, alone in his bedroom, he Googled the FBI phone line.
“Googling to report my father. Saying it out loud is pretty weird,” the son told the jury.
For two days after Jan. 6, Guy Refitt bragged to his family in text messages about his involvement in the Capitol riots as he drove home. He wrote to his family where he was in the videotape of the attack, what he was wearing and that he was sprayed with pepper balls, his son testified. Prosecutors showed jurors several series of text messages.
Jackson Refitt said he took screenshots of some of the texts and sent them to the FBI a few days after Jan. 6.
“Clay balls were fired several times and pepper spray was plentifully sprayed. We have taken the capital of the United States. We are the People’s Republic,” Guy Refitt wrote on January 8 to his children and wife.
He also sent the family a clip from The Laura Ingram Show on Fox, where he starred in a video of the attack. “This is my beginning in blue,” my father wrote, adding later, “walking up the stairs in a Kuwaiti blue coat.”
Earlier in court, the jury saw video from the Capitol’s security camera showing a man in a bulletproof vest and a blue jacket far ahead of the crowd, on the steps of the Capitol’s Upper West Terrace, who was ordered to stand down by police and sprayed with chemical irritants. Then a huge crowd of Trump supporters were able to overwhelm the police and infiltrate further into the Capitol complex.
“Hero,” Jackson Refit said to his father in a text thread after the attack.
But the son explained in the place of the witness: “It was sarcasm.”
He also spoke more soberly to his father in January in a text message that law enforcement was looking for participants in the Capitol riot.
“I’m trying to get him to understand how bad the situation is,” the son testified across the courtroom from his father.
After Guy Reffit returned home to Texas, his son recorded family conversations about the Capitol riot on his cell phone.
In the audio recordings heard by the jury, the family at times laughed at the father’s outburst on the national news. Guy Reffit boasted of being caught on video in a clip that aired on the news. But it was very short-lived, and his wife and children teased him about it.
“We must have a moment of sadness because the father has a one-second video of him storming the Capitol,” his wife joked in the recording.
However, Guy Refitt later became increasingly worried about being arrested for his part in the attack. According to his son, he was so worried that he warned Jackson Refitt and his younger sister that if they reported him to the FBI, they would become traitors and “traitors would be shot.”
“I looked at my sister and she looked at me in a dazed, almost bewildered way,” Jackson told jurors. “I was very angry” and “feared not only for myself, but also for my sister.”
That day, Jackson said, he drove to a local high school and parked for 15 minutes so his family would think he was picking up friends. He then met an FBI agent in a restaurant and told the agent “everything”.
He left the family home after his father’s arrest in January 2021 and has had little to no contact with them since. Shortly after his arrest, Jackson Refitt gave a lengthy interview on national television about his father’s extradition.