New Mexico Family Gun Shop Owners Get New Trial

Last summer, I told you about the Reese family in Deming, New Mexico.  Rick and Terri Reese, along with their two sons Ryin and Remington ran a gun shop.  They kept meticulous records and ran their successful business according to the letter of the law.  Then suddenly, they found themselves charged with violating federal gun trafficking laws.  They were arrested and the feds seized the gun shop along with its $2 million worth of inventory which included all of the guns, gun records and nearly two millions rounds of ammunition.  The feds also seized all of the family’s personal possessions, including their home, cars, bank accounts, jewelry, gold and coin collections all totaling about half a million dollars.

More than six months after being jailed, Terri Reese was finally allowed to post bail in March of 2012 and get out of jail, but her husband and two sons were denied the same opportunity because the prosecution claimed they were dangerous and posed a flight risk.  The father and sons were held over pending their trials.

In July 2012, son Remington was acquitted of all charges and set free.  Rick and Terri were each found guilty of one count of lying on firearms purchase forms.  Son Ryin was found guilty on two counts of lying on federal purchase forms.  All members of family were acquitted on the other 24 charges that had been brought against them.

Even though the trial was last July, Rick and Ryin Reese remain in jail pending their sentence hearing which has never taken place.  All toll, the father and son have spent nearly a year and half in jail.

However, that all may change because of a new ruling just handed down by Judge Robert Brack who heard the case and previously denied bail to the father and sons.  Not only has Brack said that the two men can be released on bail, but he has also granted the motion for a new trial based on the fact that the prosecution withheld vital evidence from the defense attorneys.

It turns out that the prosecution was aware of an ongoing investigation concerning possible corruption within the law enforcement officers in southern New Mexico.  Part of that investigation involved the Luna County Sheriff’s Department which was responsible for the bringing the initial charges against the Reese family.

One officer of the sheriff’s department, Det. Alan Batts was one of the main subjects of the corruption investigation.  It was Batts that testified against Terri Reese in the trial, claiming that she had admitted to him that she knew of a gun they sold had ended up in Mexico.  In her testimony, Terri denied any such statement or knowledge and it was Batt’s testimony that helped lead to the conviction of lying on the federal firearms purchase forms.

When it was shown to Judge Brack that the prosecution knew of this investigation on Batts, and that they failed to notify the defense, he ordered a new trial, saying:

“Regardless of the reason why the warnings went unheeded (or, more darkly, were ignored), there is no doubt that the prosecution, intentionally or negligently, suppressed the evidence.”

“Viewing the significance of the suppressed evidence in relation to the record as a whole… the court concludes that the defendants’ Motion for New Trial should be granted.”

Brack set bail for Rick and Ryin at $10,000 each, yet to a family that has had everything they own taken away from them by the federal government, $20,000 is a huge sum of money to raise.  Efforts are being made by their friends to help raise enough money to post bail and to help offset their mounting legal fees.

If they are subsequently acquitted in the new trial, I hope and pray that they are able to force the government to return all of their possessions and assets.  They also need to consider filing a wrongful arrest suit against Det. Alan Batts, the Luna County Sheriff’s Department and the federal agencies (ATF for one) involved in the conspiracy to put them out of business.  If they do, I hope they collect millions from them and are able to restore their business and reputation.