Washington machine gun dispute delayed

Josh Farley / The Kitsap (Wash.) Sun /

Published Jun 5, 2012 at 05:00AM

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — County prosecutors’ criminal case against the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club’s executive officer inched closer to going before a jury ... and then was delayed until October.

At a Monday hearing before Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie, prosecutors were successful in curbing Marcus Carter from being able to mention the county’s lawsuit with the gun club, and from making certain arguments using the Second Amendment and other rhetoric that might steer a jury away from following Washington law.

Carter, for his part, pushed back against the case itself, and while his attempts to dismiss it were thrown out, Laurie delayed the trial so he could file several more motions aimed at doing so.

Carter has faced charges off and on since 1999, when two off-duty Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office investigators taking a gun class from him said he’d modified a rifle to fire automatically, which is illegal under state law.

The case against Carter has been dismissed three times since he was charged, only to be appealed by prosecutors and brought back by an appellate court’s ruling.

Carter has continued to act as his own attorney in the case, though he is not a lawyer.

King County prosecutors had briefly handled the case in 2010, as Kitsap prosecutors felt the criminal charge had become conflated with the county’s lawsuit against the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. But Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin “Andy” Anderson has resumed handling since the civil case’s conclusion in Pierce County Superior Court (though the club has appealed the judge’s ruling).

Anderson was successful Monday in disallowing Carter from making mention to the county suit. Laurie also agreed with Anderson that Carter cannot argue that the jury’s role is to “protect individuals from the state,” that jurors would owe a “duty” to the defendant or that the jury needs “to do the right thing.” Anderson said in court documents that attempts for jury nullification — in which jurors disregard the court’s instructions in favor of doing what they feel is right — were “completely improper.”

Carter also cannot bring in “references to constitutional arguments” under the Second Amendment in reference to possessing a machine gun, if the argument runs afoul to the court’s instructions about the Washington law prosecutors allege he violated.

Carter objected on each of the limiting instructions.

Carter vowed to make several more motions to get the case thrown out. After Anderson responds in writing to those objections, a hearing in July will be held for Laurie to rule on them.

The case is set for trial Oct. 9.