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Thread: Wrongful Conviction for "firearm" possession

  1. #1
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    A gross miscarriage of justice. Everyone got this wrong!!

    http://www.dailypress.com/news/local...,5259269.story

    Note that Chesapeake is the same city that is prosecuting the "pot grower" for 1st degree murder of a police officer.... (See the link below)

    http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum65/13153.html

    RICHMOND, Va. - The attorney general's office is supporting an inmate's bid to become the first person exonerated under a 2004 Virginia law allowing prisoners to present new, non-DNA evidence of their innocence.

    Darrell Andrew Copeland was convicted last year of felony firearm possession. Copeland, who previously had been convicted of robbery, was sentenced to five years in prison.

    However, tests conducted by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science later determined the weapon he had was a "gas gun" that does not fit the definition of a firearm under state law. A gas gun uses compressed gas to fire a round, whereas state law defines a firearm as an instrument "intended to expel a projectile by means of an explosion."

    State police seized the gun after a car Copeland was riding in crashed during a chase in Chesapeake. A trooper testified at Copeland's trial that the weapon was a black semiautomatic pistol, but the state did not introduce the gun as evidence.



    Copeland's lawyer said the evidence was insufficient because the state failed to exhibit the gun. But the judge agreed with prosecutors, who claimed the trooper's expertise in identifying firearms was sufficient. The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed Copeland's conviction in March.

    Two months later, the state lab issued its analysis of the weapon.

    "The Commonwealth admits that petitioner is incarcerated on an offense he legally could not commit," Senior Assistant Attorney General Leah A. Darron wrote in the state's response to Copeland's petition in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

    This marks the first time the state has backed an inmate's petition for a "writ of actual innocence" since the law took effect four years ago. According to the appeals court, 126 petitions have been rejected and none granted. Copeland's is one of three pending.

    The law applies to anyone who is convicted in circuit court after pleading not guilty.

    Virginia law once required inmates to present any newly discovered evidence of innocence within three weeks after sentencing. The "21-day rule" was widely regarded as the strictest in the nation.

    The General Assembly carved out an exception for DNA evidence in 2002. Two years later, legislators also eliminated the deadline for newly discovered nonbiological evidence but established a tough standard: Petitioners must demonstrate that "no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

    The lab report in Copeland's case meets that standard, Darron wrote, adding that the inmate's petition should be "expeditiously granted." The appeals court may need another hearing, or it may simply issue the writ, lawyers in the case said.

    "We're hoping it's going to be very quick," said Kathleen Ortiz, the public defender in Chesapeake. "My hope is they will grant it without requiring any more hearings."

    Regardless of how swiftly the court moves, Copeland won't be a free man anytime soon. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of carjacking and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced on April 1 to 10 years in federal prison. He was returned to state custody to serve his five-year sentence on the firearms conviction before serving his federal sentence.


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    By "gas gun" do we mean pellet gun?
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    I guess the LEO didn't notice the BB or pellet that fell out when he cleared the weapon And this may be one of the people who may want to disarm me? Kinda scary on a personal safety don't shoot me in the leg kinda way.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    Citizen wrote:
    By "gas gun" do we mean pellet gun?
    Apparently, but in any event, the weapon didn't meet the definition of "firearm".

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    deepdiver wrote:
    I guess the LEO didn't notice the BB or pellet that fell out when he cleared the weapon And this may be one of the people who may want to disarm me? Kinda scary on a personal safety don't shoot me in the leg kinda way.
    Sorry ignorance doesn't fly here, this guy needs to be tried for purgery. Unless he never unloaded it before admitting it as evidence, he clearly knew the difference.

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    Here's another case of a prosecuter tryingsomeone for use of a non firearm as a firearm.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2008/07/afte...-faces-8-years
    Revelation 1911 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

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    I call BS on this one, Mob.

    Just like that jacka that got shot in the Baskin Robins earlier this year, if you want to pretend to play hardball, you can't turn around and then complain about how "Sometimes I wake up crying,".

    Think about it, if this little punk, who obviously THOUGHT he was hardcore, was running around holding up little girls, even with a fake gun, what would've happened if he decided to take it to the next level?
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    All I did was make the post to show a similarity of someone elsegetting charged like they had a real firearm. I don't know howyou think I was feeling sorry for the little punk.I don't feel one bit sorry for the little punk going to jail. If someone had shot him while he was commiting one of therobberies he would have gotten what he deserved. I think he should be punished and go to jail. I hope he cries alot more.

    However, my point in makingmy post was andas in the original post, neither person had a "firearm". He should be charged and convictedfor robberies and go to jail, buthe shoudn't be convicted for a"firearm". It will be wrong for theprosecuterto comment about his use of a "firearm" at the sentencing to try to get him more time by implying the persons being robbed were in danger of loosing their lives. In either case itstill isn'ta "firearm".
    Revelation 1911 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

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    mobeewan wrote:
    All I did was make the post to show a similarity of someone elsegetting charged like they had a real firearm. I don't know howyou think I was feeling sorry for the little punk.I don't feel one bit sorry for the little punk going to jail. If someone had shot him while he was commiting one of therobberies he would have gotten what he deserved. I think he should be punished and go to jail. I hope he cries alot more.

    However, my point in makingmy post was andas in the original post, neither person had a "firearm". He should be charged and convictedfor robberies and go to jail, buthe shoudn't be convicted for a"firearm". It will be wrong for theprosecuterto comment about his use of a "firearm" at the sentencing to try to get him more time by implying the persons being robbed were in danger of loosing their lives. In either case itstill isn'ta "firearm".
    NRA sponsored Project Exile promotes enhanced penalties for 'firearms' crimes thus things that aren't firearms become firearms in the eyes of the gun-controllers. They have hijacked our language. Gun control is about power and the NRA is an eager tyrant wannabe.

    If a felon may be properly disarmed under color of law then we can all be disarmed under color of law merely by sufficiently lowering the standard of 'felony' - even to merely alleging domestic violence.

    Either we are equal or we are not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. NRA *******

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    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    The two cases are dissimilar in that in the first no crime was being committed at all. In the second several crimes of robbery were committed. However, I do agree that the prosecutor has no business arguing he use a firearm, although I certainly think that prosecuting him for a weapon is more than proper in that the intention was to use it in a manner that made it appear to be a lethal weapon.

    From the second link:
    "Nelson was 16 and in the eighth grade at Corporate Landing Middle School at the time.

    "He is a child," [his mother, Whitney Nelson] said. "If he gets the mandatory sentence in an adult facility, he won't get an education." "


    I'm thinking that being 2-3 years older than his classmates already by eighth grade pretty much indicates that his educational boat had already sailed.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    deepdiver wrote:
    The two cases are dissimilar in that in the first no crime was being committed at all. In the second several crimes of robbery were committed. However, I do agree that the prosecutor has no business arguing he use a firearm, although I certainly think that prosecuting him for a weapon is more than proper in that the intention was to use it in a manner that made it appear to be a lethal weapon.

    From the second link:
    "Nelson was 16 and in the eighth grade at Corporate Landing Middle School at the time.

    "He is a child," [his mother, Whitney Nelson] said. "If he gets the mandatory sentence in an adult facility, he won't get an education." "


    I'm thinking that being 2-3 years older than his classmates already by eighth grade pretty much indicates that his educational boat had already sailed.
    spewed on that one dd.....thanks...you now owe me a keyboard...
    and rgr....it's intent that matters...

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    deepdiver wrote:
    The two cases are dissimilar in that in the first no crime was being committed at all. In the second several crimes of robbery were committed. However, I do agree that the prosecutor has no business arguing he use a firearm, although I certainly think that prosecuting him for a weapon is more than proper in that the intention was to use it in a manner that made it appear to be a lethal weapon.

    From the second link:
    "Nelson was 16 and in the eighth grade at Corporate Landing Middle School at the time.

    "He is a child," [his mother, Whitney Nelson] said. "If he gets the mandatory sentence in an adult facility, he won't get an education." "


    I'm thinking that being 2-3 years older than his classmates already by eighth grade pretty much indicates that his educational boat had already sailed.
    Bolded is not a true statement....the article jumps around a lot but in the first case, the individual pleaded guilty to federal charges of carjacking and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced on April 1 to 10 years in federal prison.

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    bayboy42 wrote:
    deepdiver wrote:
    The two cases are dissimilar in that in the first no crime was being committed at all. In the second several crimes of robbery were committed. However, I do agree that the prosecutor has no business arguing he use a firearm, although I certainly think that prosecuting him for a weapon is more than proper in that the intention was to use it in a manner that made it appear to be a lethal weapon.

    From the second link:
    "Nelson was 16 and in the eighth grade at Corporate Landing Middle School at the time.

    "He is a child," [his mother, Whitney Nelson] said. "If he gets the mandatory sentence in an adult facility, he won't get an education." "


    I'm thinking that being 2-3 years older than his classmates already by eighth grade pretty much indicates that his educational boat had already sailed.
    Bolded is not a true statement....the article jumps around a lot but in the first case, the individual pleaded guilty to federal charges of carjacking and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced on April 1 to 10 years in federal prison.
    From the way the article was written, I took that to be a separate incident to the one he was charged on for the firearm in the possession of a felon. Perhaps not. Now I am confused and too tired to try to figure out which of us is correctly interpreting the story.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    Virginia-Pilot article:

    Norfolk man exonerated by arguing gun was not a 'firearm'

    By John Hopkins
    The Virginian-Pilot
    © August 12, 2008 CHESAPEAKE

    The Virginia Court of Appeals has vacated a firearms conviction against a 20-year-old Norfolk man, the first person in Virginia to be exonerated under a 2004 Virginia law allowing convicts to present new, non-DNA evidence of their innocence.

    The Court of Appeals granted Darrell Andrew Copeland’s “writ of actual innocence,’’ in a decision handed down today. The court’s decision comes after the attorney general’s office conceded that Copeland is in prison for a crime he legally could not commit.

    Copeland was convicted in Chesapeake Circuit Court in July 2007 for possession of a firearm by a felon. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

    The court’s decision was based on the definition of a “firearm.’’ State law defines a firearm as an instrument intended to expel a projectile by means of an explosion.

    Copeland filed his petition after learning of a lab test of the gun that authorities seized from him. State police testified in Copeland’s trial that the weapon was a black semiautomatic pistol. It was determined after Copeland’s trial that the weapon was actually a “gas gun,’’ which uses compressed gas to fire. The attorney general supported Copeland’s claim of innocence.

    “Having independently examined the record presented to us, we conclude the unique circumstances of this case make it prudent to accept the Attorney General’s concession without further development of the facts,’’ the court ruled. The case was remanded to the circuit court and is expected to be expunged from the record.

    Despite the Virginia Court of Appeals’ ruling, Copeland will remain behind bars for other crimes. He pleaded guilty in federal court to carjacking and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison.

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    under a 2004 Virginia law allowing prisoners to present new, non-DNA evidence of their innocence.
    Yes, because we want to make sure we keep innocent people in jail. How dare you prove your innocence!
    "Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: 'No man should have so much.' The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: 'All men should have as much.'"- Phelps Adams

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    Definitely a BG but innocent of that particular charge and I'm happy to see the system worked - sort of.

    Legislative change to the law to make even squirt guns "firearms" in 5, 4, 3, 2 ....
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    deepdiver wrote:
    Definitely a BG but innocent of that particular charge and I'm happy to see the system worked - sort of.

    Legislative change to the law to make even squirt guns "firearms" in 5, 4, 3, 2 ....
    Well, I am happy to see the LETTER of the law was followed, THAT is important. It ignores the "spirit" of the law BS and sticks to the wording exactly.

    I think that is a case law win!

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    The State Trooper who "mis-testified" needs to experience some personal feedback here. There is no way he could really believe that this gun was a "firearm".

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    Does anyone have a pic of what thisgun looks like?
    James Reynolds

    NRA Certified Firearms Instructor - Pistol, Shotgun, Home Firearms Safety, Refuse To Be A Victim
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    ProShooter wrote:
    Does anyone have a pic of what thisgun looks like?
    Even if it is one of those super realistic looking Airsoft guns, my understanding is that it is standard police protocol to unload a gun they are confiscating. When he unloaded it he surely saw that it wasn't loaded with real bullets.

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    mobeewan wrote:
    However, my point in makingmy post was andas in the original post, neither person had a "firearm". He should be charged and convictedfor robberies and go to jail, buthe shoudn't be convicted for a"firearm". It will be wrong for theprosecuterto comment about his use of a "firearm" at the sentencing to try to get him more time by implying the persons being robbed were in danger of loosing their lives. In either case itstill isn'ta "firearm".
    I have to disagree. The felon who merely carried a pellet gun did not show it or threaten anybody with it. In the Eighth Grader's case the broken BB gun was used to commit the robbery. That is a big difference.

    In Virginia if somebody points what appears to be a gun at me without provocation, then they have committed the crime of brandishing.If people are made to fear for their lives, whether the gun is real or not,then I think it should be armed robbery.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitableand let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come . PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Thundar wrote:
    If people are made to fear for their lives, whether the gun is real or not,then I think it should be armed robbery.
    I disagree, the crime of armed robbery should not be based on the feelings of the victims. Instead the difference between robbery and armed robbery, is the determination of the perpetrator. In the case of Armed robbery, it is a more severe offense because the possession and use of a deadly weapon indicates that the thief was willing to mortally wound or kill in order to get his loot, where someone who is committing a robber unarmed, presumably is not willing to take a life and has not shown evidence of being as dangerous of an individual as the armed robber has.

    By possessing a fake gun, the criminal obviously did not have intent to mortally wound or kill any of his victims.

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    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    asforme wrote:
    By possessing a fake gun, the criminal obviously did not have intent to mortally wound or kill any of his victims.
    Possibly. Here's another possibility ... The criminal couldn't get hold of a real gun at that moment, so used the BB gun he could get and figured if someone didn't cooperate that he would just use the cheapy BB gun to beat them to death because their property and life mean nothing to him.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    A steel toed boot would be just as effective. Does having a steel toed boot while committing a robbery make it armed robbery?

  25. #25
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    asforme wrote:
    A steel toed boot would be just as effective. Does having a steel toed boot while committing a robbery make it armed robbery?
    You may be on to something there.

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