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Arizona Gunkit Maker Bob
Stewart Found Guilty by Jury
Judge Declares Him
"Dangerous to Society" and Locks Him Up Until Sentencing
by Angel Shamaya
January 23, 2002
PHOENIX, Arizona (KeepAndBearArms.com)
began as an undercover operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
in April 2000 concluded with a "guilty" verdict from an Arizona jury
today Bob Stewart's detention hearing is expected on the 1st of February, and
his sentencing hearing takes place some time before April of this year.
(If you have no idea who Bob Stewart is or what this is all about, links below
lead you to many past stories covering this case.)
According to Mr. Stewart's wife Naomi, mother
of their three young boys, the judge declared Bob "a flight risk and a
danger to society," and sent him straight to jail to await sentencing.
Said Mrs. Stewart, "they wouldn't even let me give him a goodbye hug before
they took him away."
|"They wouldn't even let
me give him a goodbye hug before they took him away."
Stewart, after watching her husband being whisked off to jail to await
sentencing for the "crime" of exercising his second amendment
Mr. Stewart's court-appointed defense attorney, Mr. Haney,
stood up in Stewart's defense, telling Judge Roslyn O. Silver that Stewart was
obviously the model case of "non flight risk" Bob Stewart worked on
his own defense, attended every court hearing and responded to all motions on
time, managed his household and replaced lost income, all on his own recognizance.
The judge said Stewart's deliberately flouting the laws and the views he's
expressed in defiance of those laws led her to conclude that he needed to wait
behind bars for sentencing.
Originally investigated by BATF because his
.50BMG gun kits were thought by the federal agency to be "readily
converted" into guns, Mr. Stewart's aggressors conveniently dropped all
concerns over the kits and their alleged "ready conversion". During
their invasion of his home and workshop a "raid" in which one
agent pointed a machinegun at their 7-year-old boy BATF allegedly found numerous firearms,
five of which were unregistered machine guns. Stewart's "jury of his
peers" found him guilty of being a felon in possession of guns and of five
counts of possessing unregistered machine guns.
THE LAST DAY IN COURT
Yesterday was the final day of courtroom
proceedings before the case was handed to the jury. During the final day,
Stewart called his witnesses, closing arguments were presented from both sides,
and the judge gave the jury its "jury instructions." ...
Bob Stewart opted to call two people to the
stand. The first was the undercover federal agent who purchased a Maadi-Griffin
.50 caliber kit from Stewart. The next was the case agent who oversaw the
The undercover BATF agent who pretended to be a
customer of Bob Stewart's was a fellow by the name of Scott Tannabe (sp?).
Stewart asked the agent how many times he attempted to entice him to break the
law by completing his gun kit the agent confessed to having done so a number
of times. (Why it is legal for a government employee to entice his boss, a
citizen, to break the law is a mystery, and a sickening one any law
enforcement officer who manages to lead someone into violating a law should be
guilty of the same violation.) The agent also referenced Stewart having told him
that most federal gun laws were illegal, at which point Stewart mentioned Marbury
vs. Madison. ("All laws repugnant to the Constitution are null and
void." Marbury vs. Madison) Mr. Tannabe, like most of the
anti-second amendment organization for which he gets paid to deceive, showed no
remorse for having helped secure a conviction against Stewart all in a day's
work, right Scott?
Then Stewart called agent Bettendorf to the
stand. Bettendorf was the case agent over the investigation against the
gun kit maker. Stewart asked Bettendorf why no fingerprints were taken off of
any of the guns allegedly found in the raid. Bettendorf replied that the
number of guns and the fact that they were found in Stewart's vehicle, bedroom
and garage workshop relieved the BATF of the need to produce fingerprints.
Stewart then asked Bettendorf if, prior to the investigation, the BATF had ever
had a definition of the term "readily converted" that question was
struck from the record as "irrelevant" after a hearty objection from
the prosecution. When Stewart attempted to go into the issue of BATF's
jurisdiction as related to interstate commerce, he was barely allowed to get one
answer to one question from Bettendorf, for the same reason: "not relevant
to this case; the court has already ruled on the issue of jurisdiction."
Stewart asked Bettendorf how many agents were
involved in the investigation prior to the actual raid on June 16, 2000
there were six agents involved (one to record the conversations coming through
the wire agent Tannabe was wearing; one to monitor the operation, etc. etc.
your tax dollars at work). Stewart again asked why an administrative resolution
to the issue of the gun kit wasn't sought Bettendorf said that Stewart's
prior conviction relieved the BATF of any need to simply make a phone call over
the issue, for a man-to-man chat about the BATF's concerns. (Bettendorf,
like the other agent, appeared as if he truly believes Bob Stewart should rot in
jail for merely possessing a few guns nevermind the fact that there is no
injured party in this case, and that Bob Stewart has never hurt a flea.)
There were a couple of arguments between the
defense and the prosecution over some of the jury instructions. Most notable was
the fact that the jury wasn't allowed to consider whether or not Stewart had
been entrapped. Stewart was definitely entrapped, but because the charges
brought against him don't directly relate to the way he was entrapped, the judge
said the whole issue, like so many others that could have helped Stewart's case,
were "irrelevant." To quote Judge Silver: "There is no
rational basis that the jury could find that the defendant was
entrapped." And given the fact that the jury only heard a fraction of
the defense Bob Stewart should rightly have been allowed to present, she's
probably technically correct.
The judge read several pages of instructions to
the jury before closing arguments were presented. Included in those instructions
were the following:
- "The government must prove that
the defendant knew he possessed the guns involved in the charges." (I
saw no such proof. The BATF, with its $760 Million budget, didn't even take
fingerprints from any of the guns Stewart allegedly possessed.)
- "The government must prove that
the defendant knew the machineguns allegedly in his possession were capable
of automatic fire." (No such proof was presented in this case.
- "You must apply the law as I give it to
you." (That is a total crock of bullpuckey; a jury can judge a law, and
nullify a bad law and unless Judge Silver got her license to practice
law from a Cracker Jack box, she knows it.)
- "To find the defendant guilty of
violating Title 18, Section 922(o) possession of unregistered machinegun
you must believe that the defendant knowingly possessed a machinegun and
that he knew it was a machinegun." (I saw no evidence presented that
conclusively "proved" both requirements.)
- "The boundaries of the federal District
of Arizona is the border of the State of Arizona." (If that is
so, Judge Silver, why wouldn't you let Bob Stewart challenge that so-called
"fact" in your courtroom?)
- "You may not consider punishment when
deliberating on your verdict." (In other words, the fact that a
guilty verdict could amount to this man being sent to prison for the rest of
his natural life is, like so much else in the judge's mind,
Federal prosecutor in this case, Mr. Batista,
was given first crack at swaying the jury toward a guilty verdict. Mr. Batista
was reasoned, logical, calm, collected, dispassionate, respectful, methodical,
ordered and very cool-headed. Though few if any of the 30 or so people in
attendance on Stewart's side of the aisle agreed with what he was saying, it's
likely we all agreed that he presented his arguments well. There was one moment
when his speech produced audible frustration from the audience, however he
told the jury that Bob Stewart's gunkit was for .50 caliber machineguns.
When Stewart objected and stated that the kit was a single shot rifle, the judge
overruled his objection, telling the jury to use their own recollection to
recall the facts in the case. There were several frustrated sounds coming
from our camp, of course. The basic message was that it's okay to misrepresent
the facts in a case during closing arguments. Prosecutor Batista quickly
corrected himself to the jury. Other than that, he nailed his closing arguments
quite convincingly, wrongheaded, unAmerican "laws" notwithstanding.
Bob Stewart's closing arguments in defense of
himself, on the other hand, were very personal, impassioned and loaded with
emotionality. First, he sought to explain the nature of the previous
felony conviction and was prohibited by the judge from doing so. He likely
wanted to cover the nature of the entrapment
and the so-called "plea" bargain that took place a few years ago.
Stewart explained that he was a school teacher prior to getting into gun design
and was told that line of discussion was irrelevant. When he stated that his
rights had been restored and thus shouldn't be facing a "felon in
possession" charge, the prosecution objected, and the judge sustained the
objection, telling the jury to ignore that statement as irrelevant.
Mr. Stewart also mentioned to the jury that a
conviction would mean a lot of prison time the judge immediately jumped in
and told the jury to disregard that remark, saying that sentencing was up to the
court and should have no bearing on whether or not they found him guilty.
(Repeat: The court could sentence Stewart to 10 years in prison for each of five
counts of possession of an unregistered machine gun but the jury should
Bob Stewart said: "The government didn't
prove that my property is a federal enclave." The prosecution objected, and
the judge sustained the objection, telling the jury to ignore that statement and
that the court had already ruled in favor of the government on that issue.
Bob Stewart said: "I promise you that my
rights have been restored." After yet another sustained objection
from the prosecution, the judge said something we heard countless times
throughout this monkey trial: ignore that statement.
Stewart's presentation of his closing arguments
were scattered and brief. He closed with a plea: "in the name of Our Lord
Jesus Christ, I beg you to do the right thing" and sat down with tears
filling his eyes for the second time during his trial.
The prosecution was given a final response to
Stewart's closing argument, during which he did his best to undermine every
point Stewart made.
POINTS OF APPEAL
If Bob Stewart is required
to stay incarcerated during his appeal, how his friends and allies will get
information to him is still a mystery. However, he does have some bona fide
points of appeal...
1) The court did not properly consider his
claims that the BATF had no jurisdiction in this case. No fair response was
given to his specific claims that addressed the specific facts in that matter
rather, continual sidestepping of the issue is a matter of record.
2) The retroactive restoration of Bob
Stewart's rights was a signed court order. The alleged order rescinding that
rights restoration was unsigned. Many of our allies state plainly that the
unsigned nature of the document makes it meaningless that his rights were in
fact restored, and that the retroactivity of that order is in effect.
3) The fact that a mere telephone call
and a request for a meeting with Stewart to discuss his gun kit and the
possibility that it was actually a firearm could have resolved this matter
suggest that ulterior motives existed motives that were not about doing the
right thing and making things right, but about harassment and coercion,
intimidation and more. That facet of Stewart's defense, like so many others, was
squashed without fair reason and with what appears to be both bias and capriciousness.
There are other points of appeal, as well.
On behalf of my friends, Bob & Naomi
Stewart, and their three young boys, I am personally asking a favor: will you
please call and/or fax Judge Silver your thoughts regarding letting Mr. Stewart
out of jail to prepare his appeal. He has clearly and continually demonstrated
tremendous good faith in his commitment to meet this matter head on. He's a man
of his word, and he has no intention of running whatsoever; to the contrary, he
intends to appeal, and to win his appeal in a court of law.
Judge Roslyn O. Silver
Phone: (602) 322-7520
Fax: (602) 322-7529
401 W Washington St., Suite 624
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
We will have further information after the
detention hearing early next month. To all who have been helping this case
behind the scenes, and to all whose thoughts and prayers have been continually
sent the Stewarts' way, THANK YOU.
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