Jury Sentences Soldier At Center Of Gun Rights Debate

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Jurors decided on a sentence Wednesday in the misdemeanor trial of a soldier who’s at the center of a national gun rights debate.

Master Sgt. Christopher "C.J." Grisham. (Photo by Nick Delgado)


BELTON (November 20, 2013)--Army Master Sgt. Christopher "C.J." Grisham says probation wasn’t an option he was willing to consider as jurors prepared to decide on his sentence.

"I took probation off the table because I finally believe if I have to go to jail for standing up for myself, for standing up for my rights, that's something I'm willing to do,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I didn't want to be under the thumb and give the state another reason just to get me to violate parole, “he said.

“It's just too easy these days. Obviously if a guy can get arrested for walking down a road while hiking with his son, I have no guarantees that I wouldn't be charges with another bogus crime,” he said

"I would much rather go to jail for my convictions then succumb to having the state dictate where I can go and what I can say."

"I didn't set out to be famous,” he said. “If I wanted to get famous I wouldn't be walking in the middle of nowhere among pastures and things like that. I would've been walking downtown Temple because it would've been just as legal. "

"While they want to say it's not a gun case the truth is they tried to take my gun and just because they are not charging me with that they still have my guns, so to me it's a gun case,” he said. (Nick Delgado)


 

 

BELTON (November 20, 2013) Jurors decided on a $2,000 fine Wednesday afternoon for Army Master Sgt. Christopher "C.J." Grisham of Temple, whose case has drawn the attention of gun-rights advocates nationwide.

Grisham will not serve any time in jail.

Jurors found guilty Grisham Tuesday of interference with the duties of an officer.

The offense is a class-B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $2,000 and a jail sentence of not more than 180 days.

Grisham, who plans to appeal the guilty verdict, said he’s relieved he won’t spend time behind bars.

"I'm glad I'm not going to be wearing stripes here pretty soon. I think that was a very fair thing for the jury to do to just assess a fine,” he said

There is a finding of guilt and there's got to be punishment, so I freely accept that regardless of my thoughts on the verdict. I'm pleased with the fine and the fact that I'm going to be able to go home to my family,” he said.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Grisham’s attorney, Blue Rannefeld, reminded jurors they had the option of sentencing Grisham to no fine and no jail time.

But prosecutor John Gantt, Jr., told jurors, “We want Grisham to know this was wrong and you can’t do this.”

“He still doesn’t get it,” Gantt said.

Grisham was arrested in March 2013 after police received a report about a man who was carrying an assault-style rifle while walking along Airport Road in West Temple.

Grisham said he was just walking with his son to help him get a Boy Scout Badge, but police confiscated the rifle and arrested him after the encounter his son recorded on camera.

The video shot by Grisham’s son quickly went viral and the arrest triggered a series of demonstrations.

Grisham was charged with misdemeanor interference with the duties of an officer.

Grisham says he was carrying the weapon as protection against feral hogs and coyotes.

Earlier Wednesday investigator Joe Madrano testified that Grisham had previous incidents of interfering with public duties.

He testified the YouTube video of the confrontation with the Temple officer was a way of getting the public on his side.

He said Grisham collected nearly $52,000 in donations to offset his legal fees.

Grisham’s wife of 18 years, Emily, described her husband as “a very moral person when it comes to his rights.”

She said the arrest has put a strain on the couple’s marriage.

"I feel that we've been through enough the last eight months has been punishment enough."

A mistrial was declared in Grisham's first trial in October after the six-member jury deadlocked following two full days of deliberation.


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