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December 2, 2010

"'Perfect Storm of Injustice'? N.J. Man Serving 7 Years for Guns He Legally Owned"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable story via ABC News.  Here are some of the details, which appears to involve yet another example of mandatory minimum sentencing terms producing another example of excessive over-punishment:

Brian Aitken, 25, a successful media consultant, had been in the process of selling his home in Colorado and moving to a suburban New Jersey apartment to be closer to his son, 2.   But on the afternoon of Jan. 3, 2009, the stress of a recent divorce and messy cross-country move caused him to crack.  Aitken stormed out of his parent's suburban home in Mount Laurel, N.J., hopped into his car filled with belongings and set out on a drive to cool off.

Aitken's mother, a social worker trained to be sensitive to suicidal indicators, instinctively dialed 911 but abruptly hung up, second-guessing her reaction.  But police tracked the call, came to the Aitken's home and greeted Brian when he returned to make sure he was OK. Then, they asked to search his car.

Buried in the trunk, beneath piles of clothes and boxes of dishes, was a black duffle bag holding a boot box containing two handguns; "unloaded, disassembled, cleaned and wrapped in a cloth," his father said.  There were also several large-capacity magazines and cartons of hollow-point bullets.

Aitken had legally purchased the guns at a Denver sporting goods store two years earlier, he said.  But transporting a gun without a special permit or in a handful of exempt situations is illegal in New Jersey, giving officers no choice but to arrest Aitken and charge him with a crime.  The magazines and bullets are also illegal in the state, experts said....

"For quite some time I was pretty confident as soon as intelligent people with logical minds took a look at what happened they might slap him with a fine or something," Aitken's father Larry said. "When the prosecutor came down with an indictment, I was dumbfounded."

But after a two and a half day trial in August, a jury convicted Aitken of the charges and a judge sentenced him to 7 years in prison.  So family and friends have launched a grassroots campaign to set him free, even appealing to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for a pardon or reprieve....

[T]he judge in the case did not allow the jury to consider the moving exemption during the trail, ruling that no evidence was presented that Aitken was actually moving at the time the guns were found.  Aitken did not testify in the trial.

"The defendant's attorneys presented evidence that his house was for sale and that at the time of arrest he was travelling from one residence in New Jersey to another," Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, told ABC News.... "This sentence was entirely and statutorily mandated upon this conviction," Bewley said.

December 2, 2010 at 06:38 PM | Permalink

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Comments

1) It's ridiculous that the prosecutors even perused these charges. The father is correct. "Intelligent people with logical minds" would have viewed this case in a different light. The problem is that prosecutors are “vindictive people with jaded minds.”

2) "they asked to search his car": It should be a general lesson that is taught wide-spread. Don't ever consent to a search. Period.

3) Aside from the "moving" defense, I think the defendant had another defense: insanity. Did you read this..."selling his home in Colorado and moving to a suburban New Jersey apartment." That just screams insanity...

Posted by: Won | Dec 2, 2010 7:03:46 PM

Yet another person in jail who does not belong and the tax payers foot the bill. Governor should pardon but we all know that is not going to happen.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 2, 2010 9:33:28 PM

See feminism. The witch hunt is on for the productive male by the vile feminist lawyer and its male running dogs.

First, this poor sap tries to express his feminist side by caring about his son, enough to pick up and move.

Next, like a girl, he complies with the police thugs.

Then he fails to demand the counterattack on the vile feminist running dog prosecutor and judge. Always demand total e-discovery on these horrible adversaries of the productive male.

What I really do not understand is his failure to testify. If I feel wrongly accused, I want to make a noisy defense to anyone who will listen.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2010 11:32:05 PM

yep just another criminal action from a CRIMINAL GOVT doing everything it can to disarm the populace before the final removal of what's left of our CONSTUTIONAL RIGHTS!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 2, 2010 11:54:38 PM

Yet another piece of negative fallout is likely to be his 2-yr old son's view of the "law". He will be nine when his dad gets out. And he'll probably feel responsible for the misery, since it was his father's desire to be part of his life that caused the father to be in New Jersey in the first place. Tragic, really.

Posted by: wishful | Dec 4, 2010 2:18:26 PM

Unbelievable.. This is basically injustice.. Though, no one should be allowed to take weapons like this but considering the facts like he purchased the gun legally, it was unloaded, his track record was fine, 7 years of prison is simply not justice. 7 years for holding the guns only..? it should not be more than 1 or 2 years.. its not justice..

Posted by: Data Room | Apr 21, 2011 9:53:10 PM

Sometimes the people that want to restrict guns are to powerful. To think that a young man could be sentenced to 7 years in prison when he did nothing wrong is beyond belief. To bad the athorities don't go after the real criminals the way they do innocent people.

Posted by: Randy | Dec 27, 2011 10:40:52 PM

Overcriminalized.

Posted by: William Jockusch | May 29, 2013 2:36:29 PM

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