Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

May 20, 2011

Kenneth J. Gonzales, United States Attorney

Contact: Elizabeth Martinez, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Public Affairs Officer

Jury Finds Roswell Man Guilty of Federal Firearm Charge

ALBUQUERQUE – Today a federal jury sitting in Albuquerque convicted Arthur Harris, 46, of being a felon in possession of a firearm after a three-day trial. At sentencing, as an armed career offender, Harris faces a mandatory minimum fifteen-year term of imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment. Harris, a resident of Roswell, New Mexico, has been in federal custody since his arrest on August 13, 2010, and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Harris was arrested on a criminal complaint that was filed on August 5, 2010 and charged him as a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Thereafter, Harris was indicted on that same charge on November 18, 2011. The indictment alleged that Harris was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because he previously had been convicted of three felony offenses, two burglaries and an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in Fifth Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico (Chaves County).

The testimony at trial established that, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on June 25, 2010, officers of the Roswell Police Department responded to a domestic dispute call that a man was assaulting a woman with a firearm at a residence on South Ash Street. A ten-year-old boy testified that he made the call to 911 and asked for help because Arthur (Harris) was pointing a gun at his grandmother (the Victim). When the officers arrived at the residence, Harris was outside the residence and preparing to depart. After securing Harris for safety reasons, the officers spoke to the Victim who was inside the residence. The Victim told the officers that Harris hit her, pointed a gun at her, and threatened to kill her. The officers searched the area and found a loaded Beretta .25 caliber pistol, with a cartridge in the chamber, about three feet from where the officers had apprehended Harris.

During the trial, the jury learned that Harris was a convicted felon when he possessed the firearm and ammunition on June 25, 2010, and an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) testified that the handgun recovered on June 25, 2010 had been test-fired and was fully functional.

Two witnesses, attorneys who represented Harris on state charges arising out of the June 25, 2010 incident, testified on Harris’s behalf. The defense witnesses testified that, during their interviews of the Victim, she recanted her claim that Harris had a firearm when he assaulted her.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before returning a guilty verdict.

The case was investigated by the ATF and the Roswell Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys W. Ronald Jennings and Aaron O. Jordan.