U.S. Supreme Court orders new look at Utah gun conviction

Published March 5, 2014 8:46 am

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Washington • The Supreme Court says defendants have to know in advance that their accomplices would use or carry a gun while committing a crime in order to be convicted under federal gun laws.

The justices ruled Wednesday that the jury instructions given in Justus C. Rosemond's conviction were incorrect. Rosemond was one of five people participating in a drug deal gone bad in Tooele, Utah, in Aug. 2007.

During the incident, nine or 10 shots were fired and a car chase ensued. It was not clear who fired the weapon.

At trial in December 2010, prosecutors told U.S. District Court jurors that Rosemond could be convicted of "aiding and abetting" the crime if he merely knew his accomplice used a firearm.

He was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, discharging a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, according to court records.

In March 2011, Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Rosemond to 168 months in a federal prison, followed by 60 months on supervised release.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered federal appellate judges in Denver to take a fresh look at Rosemond's case.