Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Gun Free School Zone Case: Gabriel out of Jail?

Gabriel Metcalf home at in Billings Montana.

On September 21, 2023, a detention hearing for Gabriel Metcalf was re-opened, with a motion granted to the defense by Judge Cavan. The prosecutor, Thomas K. Godfrey, had opposed the hearing, claiming there was no significant change of information from the initial detention hearing held on August 24, 2023. At the end of the hearing, Judge Cavan released Gabriel on his own recognizance, with restrictions, to his mother's home at 430 Broadwater Avenue in Billings, Montana, where he has lived for the past decade and more.

Vivian, Gabriel's mother, and a neighbor who was the owner of a gunshop next to Vivian's alterations shop, were in attendance to lend moral support. Russell Hart, the Federal Defender who is Gabriel's counsel in this case, was the star of the hearing, with Gabriel putting in a strong, supporting performance.

The information in this article comes from Gabriel's mother, Vivian. It will be hours or days before the court documents are published.

The hearing started at 0900 at the federal courthouse with Judge Cavan presiding. Having Judge Cavan agree to hold the hearing was a significant victory. The brief by Russell Clark was brilliant. Without accusing anyone of directly lying, he showed how the initial decision of pre-trial detention was obtained with partial and misleading information, implying Gabriel was mentally incompetent.

A sealed report of psychological investigation was presented by the defense. It showed Gabriel was not inchoherent or psychotic. In fact, he was coherent and rational. His fear for his safety was found to be sincere and reasoned. Hart presented documents to show the evidence and testimony at the initial detention hearing was misleading. Gabriel's fears had a real basis with a name and documentation showing a real threat.

Thomas K. Godfrey represented the prosecution. He attempted to make the case Gabriel was a danger to society and should remain detained until trial. He called a witness who was a Billings Policeman. The witness related information he had received from a neighbor of Gabriel Metcalf, that Gabriel walked on the sidewalk with a gun over his shoulder, and walked onto a walkway leading to the neighbor's house.  The neighbor retreated into the house and stayed away from the windows.

Vivian said there is more than one residence at the house. The house had been recently broken into, which made Gabriel suspicious of strange cars in the driveway. Vivian indicated Gabriel and the other resident were acquainted and got along well.  This information was not part of testimony in court.

Gabriel is to be released on his own recognizance with conditions. He may not have contact with firearms. He may not use alcohol or drugs. He is to report all contact with police officers. The exact conditions will be revealed as the paperwork becomes available. No bail or bond is required.

Gabriel's mother, Vivian Young, has set up a GiveSendGo campaign, YoungMetcalfHomeDefenseFund, in order to aid in his defense and to help provide needed security for their home. With Gabriel home, but without firearms, improved security systems are in order.  There are many questions which require answers. What information does the Billings Police have which can be obtained through Montana public records requests, for example.

Opinion: Judges have to rely on the reports of others. Judges do not like to be manipulated or deceived. The information revealed by Federal Defender Russell Hart was in opposition to the carefully crafted narrative put forward in the first detention hearing and in the affidavit of Criminal Complaint.  Gabriel Metcalf is not mental or a drug or alcohol abuser.  Hearsay from a neighbor who is terrified of firearms is not strong evidence of another persons mental state. This leaves a clean case before the court. There is little dispute about the facts. The question is whether the Gun Free School Zone law violates the limits placed on the government by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Cases such as this, which are facially disputed, can take years to resolve. The defense, with Gabriel out of jail, becomes much simpler. The defense does not have to be concerned about plea agreements whose major attraction is to get the defendant out of jail.

AmmoLand will keep readers posted of developments in this case.

Update: as of 5:46 a.m. MDT on September 22, 2023, Gabriel is still listed as an inmate at the Yellowstone Detention Facility in Billings, Montana.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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