published Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Jury gets Athens, Tenn., brothers' gun sales case

A jury now will decide whether two Athens, Tenn., brothers illegally sold hundreds of guns without a license or if the two were simply avid gun collectors and traders.

Carl and Richard Monroe face federal charges of selling guns without a federal firearms license. The brothers were indicted last year along with Kevin Dawson and his father-in-law, Jack Wardlaw, on the weapons charges.

Dawson pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing on March 21. Wardlaw filed paperwork to plead guilty. He is scheduled for a hearing today.

Prosecutor Terra Bay and defense attorneys Mike Little for Richard Monroe and Myrlene Marsa for Carl Monroe finished closing arguments late Monday.

U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier asked the jury to return this morning to begin deliberations.

Little hammered at what he called "misleading evidence" presented by Bay during the trial. He told the jury that she failed to prove that his client ever profited from selling guns.

Marsa said Bay could not prove what was required in the law: that to be "in the business" of selling firearms, the seller had to make a profit or livelihood from the sales.

But Bay countered in her final statements to the jury that the Monroes' volume, frequency and type of firearms purchases and sales from 2008 until 2011 amounted to a business.

"Why would a person buy cheap firearms from a pawn shop and sell them to complete strangers for money?" Bay asked the jury. "Profit."

Both brothers testified earlier in the trial that they bought and sold guns for their own collections and never thought they were breaking the law.

But on recorded conversations by undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau agents, Carl Monroe tells more than one buyer he can get guns for the man that he wants.

In one instance, Carl sold a handgun to a convicted felon who was working as an informant with agents.

Carl testified that he thought he was selling the weapon to the man's girlfriend, who was with him at his Athens home and had the money for the gun.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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