Marine Corps Double Amputee Acquitted of Felony Gun Charge
The wounded Marine was charged with felony possession of an unregistered firearm, carrying a pistol without a license, and possession of ammunition. In his third trial – after two jury deadlocks – the three-tour veteran of Iraq was acquitted of the firearms charges, but found guilty of the misdemeanor ammunition possession charge.
Corporal Melroy Cort, a former Marine who lost both legs in an IED explosion during his third tour in Iraq, was arrested in 2006 at a service station near Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC while awaiting repair of a flat tire. Before releasing the vehicle into the control of the service station employees, Cort, who had just driven in from Ohio to begin a treatment program at Walter Reed, retrieved a 9mm pistol from the car's glove box, putting it in his pocket. Someone apparently saw him retrieve the pistol and called police. When police approached him, Cort raised his hands and cooperated with police. Cort claimed that he intended to secure the firearm with the Provost Marshall at Walter Reed upon arrival.
There is some confusion about where exactly the ammunition was located during the incident. Cort says the ammo was locked in the trunk, police say it was in the gun's "clip," but news reports failed to specify whether police claim that the clip was in the gun. It sees obvious that the conviction on the ammunition charge was a compromise among members of the jury who apparently felt that some punishment was called for, but that a felony conviction – which could have seriously impacted Cort's military benefits – was too harsh.
You've got to wonder about DC police and prosecutors pushing this case so hard. There has been no suggestion that Cort, an Ohio resident and holder of an Ohio concealed carry permit, was planning to commit any crime with the firearm, merely that his possession of it in that location was a violation of local DC laws. Had this been almost any other jurisdiction Cort probably would have been warned by police and sent on his way or at most, the matter would have been dropped after the first jury deadlocked. For such a case to be tried three times is an absolute outrage.
Cort says he intends to appeal the misdemeanor conviction.