Here’s another story (via The Baltimore Sun) about a criminal going free on technicalities, and an unlucky citizen suffering as a result. “Michael R. Hunter Jr. pleaded guilty to having a .22-caliber revolver loaded with five bullets tucked in his waistband while walking along a city street on the evening of Oct. 25. Two Baltimore police officers saw him ditch the weapon in an alley near Greenmount Avenue.” Maryland has a law called Exile. It guarantees “hard time for gun crime”: five, ten or fifteen mandatory years without parole, depending on the offense. But in THIS case . . .
Moments after cops retrieved the revolver from the alley in October and slapped on the cuffs, Hunter, according to court charging documents, blurted out, “That gun doesn’t even work; it is missing a pin.”
I could see that being an excuse if he was carrying a box of broken, unloaded guns and parts in the trunk of his car, but this guy had priors and was essentially walking the streets carrying a loaded concealed weapon – that didn’t happen to work at that moment. But it was for the court to decide:
District Court Judge C. Yvonne Holt-Stone found Hunter guilty of illegally possessing a firearm.
Isn’t a firearm a handgun?
Well, yes and no.
Handguns are firearms. Other guns are firearms, too. Firearms include everything from starter pistols to rifles, shotguns to assault weapons. And while a handgun has to be operable for someone to possess it illegally, a firearm can be illegal regardless of whether it can be fired.
But an illegal-firearm charge doesn’t carry the same stiff sanctions as an illegal-handgun charge.
Prosecutors asked Holt-Stone to sentence Hunter to two years in jail, with 21 months suspended.
The judge gave him two years, suspending 22 months. “I basically gave what the state asked,” she told me in an interview.
She noted that Hunter had a job, was working toward his high school equivalency degree and had no prior convictions but for a minor drug case as a juvenile.
Arrested in October, Hunter walked out of jail in December after paying $37.50 in court costs, and having served his time awaiting trial.
Did Hunter now realize the error of his ways? Unfortunately not:
Police said that four months later, on April 8, Hunter and an accomplice shot and killed Charles Bowman, a Vietnam War veteran and security guard at the Afro American newspaper, at the Waverly carryout.
Bowman was 72.