Charges in gun case could be dropped



An Angels Camp resident charged with possessing several illegal firearms must wait until next week to learn if the charges against him will be dismissed.

Richard Wilmshurst, owner of 49er Subaru in historic Angels Camp, faces 10 counts of possessing assault weapons.

A federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent reported the firearms to state officials in January after Wilmshurst showed them to her during a routine inspection.

Wilmshurst, a federally licensed firearms importer, says federal law allows him to have the firearms, even if they're not legal by state standards.

State prosecutors disagree.

Wilmshurst had faced three counts of possessing an assault weapon and seven counts of unlawful assault weapon activity when he was arraigned in June. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But at yesterday's preliminary hearing set in the historic Black Bart courtroom in old town San Andreas because all the courtrooms at the government center were full the state Attorney General's Office modified the charges.

At the end of the hearing, Stanislaus County Judge Glenn Ritchey said he would wait until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday before deciding if the charges would hold up beyond the preliminary hearing.

Also on Tuesday, Ritchey will decide on a motion by Wilmshurst's attorney to suppress evidence uncovered when Wilmshurst's home and business were searched earlier this year.

Wilmshurst's Sonora attorney, Thomas Marovich, said his client had to incriminate himself for state authorities to get the search warrant. That violates the Constitution's Fifth Amendment, Marovich said.

In January, when the ATF agent saw Wilmshurst's weapons cache which included machine guns and high-powered rifles she notified the state of her findings.

State authorities obtained a search warrant and returned to Angels Camp. They found 10 guns that Wilmshurst possessed illegally, according to state standards, Deputy Attorney General Aaron Maguire said.

The Union Democrat
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