First criminal trial of accused U.S. Capitol rioter begins with jury selection

Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

The first criminal trial of a person accused of taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters opened on Monday, with a judge screening potential jurors for bias.

The defendant, Guy Reffitt of Texas, is one of about 750 people charged with taking part in the riot, which attempted to stop Congress from formally certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election.

A guilty verdict for Reffitt could motivate other defendants who face felony charges to accept plea deals offered by prosecutors.

More than 200 people have pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to the Capitol riot. The riot was fueled by Trump’s false claims that his election loss was the result of fraud.

Reffitt faces charges of entering the Capitol grounds with a firearm as well as an obstruction charge because he allegedly threatened his teenage children with harm if they turned him in to authorities.

Reffitt’s estranged son, now 19, turned him into the FBI. The son, Jackson, is expected to testify against his father at trial, prosecutors have said.