The amount of stupidity that occurred in Mark Witaschek’s trial is hard to describe. For those who don’t know Mr. Witaschek was facing charges for illegally possessing ammunition in Washington DC. He was found guilty but when you look at the details you will notice how desperate the prosecution was to nail this man to the wall:
Until the final hours of the trial, both the defense and government focused the case on whether the single 12 gauge shotgun shell that was found in Mr. Witaschek’s D.C. home was operable. The judge, however, never ruled on it.
In the afternoon on Wednesday, Judge Morin shook the plastic shell and tried to listen to something inside. He said he could not hear any gunpowder. He then asked the lawyers to open the shell to see if there was powder inside.
(This seemed like a bizarre request since the lack of primer — not gunpowder — would be relevant to the interoperability of the misfired shell.)
Assistant Attorney General Peter Saba said that the government wanted to open the shell but that, “It is dangerous to do outside a lab.”
The prosecutors and police officers left the courtroom to try to find a lab that was open in the afternoon to bring the judge to cut the plastic off the section that holds the pellets. When that proved not possible in the same day, the judge decided to just rule on the bullets.
Opening a 12 gauge shell is not dangerous to do outside of a lab, unless my reloading room qualifies as a lab. Uncrimp the top, down the shot out, wiggle the wad out, and dump the powder. Since the prosecution was looking to see if power was inside of the shell the method I just described would have sufficed. But since the shell couldn’t be dissected the day of the trial the prosecution moved to its backup plan:
The 25 conical-shaped, .45 caliber bullets, made by Knight out of lead and copper, sat on the judge’s desk. They do not have primer or gunpowder so cannot be propelled. The matching .50 caliber plastic sabots were also in the box.
Mr. Witaschek was found guilty because he was in possession of lead that happened to be shaped in a conical form. It appears that the simple possession of lead is now an offense in Washington DC.
This trial was purely vindictive. The prosecution wanted to send a message to the people of Washington DC and that message is “Shut the fuck up slaves. We are your masters.” It’s no secret that the overlords of Washington DC don’t want their serfs possessing firearms. When one dares to do so the police are sent out, with guns of course, to kidnap the unruly serf so he or she can be put in front of a judge. Since it’s rare for the police to actually find somebody illegally possessing a firearm (because those people are generally smart enough to hide their firearms) the overlords have to take what they get. If that means prosecuting somebody for possessing a shotgun shell and some pieces of lead so be it.