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For Immediate Release
January 13, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

BALTIMORE COUNTY MAN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL
POSSESSION OF MACHINE GUN AND SHORT-BARRELED SHOTGUN

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that David Martin Smith, 49, of 2142 Riding Crop Way, Baltimore County, has been sentenced for his role in the illegal possession of a machine gun and short-barreled shotgun. On October 22-23, 2002, a jury trial was held in the Circuit Court for Howard County, and Smith was found guilty of two counts of Possession of a Machine Gun for Aggressive Purpose, and one count of Illegal Possession of a Short-Barreled Shotgun. At that time, a pre-sentence report was ordered, and sentencing was set for January 10, 2003.

The Honorable Diane O. Leasure, who presided over the trial, sentenced Smith to 10 years of incarceration at the Department of Corrections, and then suspended all of that time except for two years, which Smith is to serve on home detention. Judge Leasure also imposed a $2,500 fine, ordered Smith to complete 200 hours of voluntary community service, and forfeit his weapons that are currently in the State's custody. Upon completion of his two-year period of home detention, Smith will be subject to five years of supervised probation.

According to the facts presented at trial, on November 27, 2001, Baltimore County Police detectives received information from an individual in custody for attempted murder that a man known as "Dave" was attempting to illegally sell machine guns for several thousand dollars apiece. This individual also claimed that Smith expressed a willingness to take drugs rather than money for the weapons. Detectives received further information regarding the types of weapons being offered for sale and the identity of "Dave." Further investigation revealed that David Martin Smith was the subject of that information, and on November 29th a search and seizure warrant was executed on Smith's Reisterstown apartment.

The police did not find any weapons at his apartment, but learned from a witness and the defendant that the weapons they sought were located at his parent's house, 2920 Woodwick Court, Ellicott City. Officers and Maryland State Police Troopers proceeded to that location and retrieved three weapons belonging to Smith, a Norinco SKS, 7.62 x 39mm rifle, a Remington .12 gauge shotgun, and an AK-47. At that time, Smith denied knowing the SKS rifle was illegal in any fashion.

"Our illegal gun prosecution initiative is designed to prevent the illegal ownership of guns like these by men like Mr. Smith," Attorney General Curran said. "Because these illegal guns were seized before they could end up in the hands of criminals, who knows how many lives have been saved and senseless crimes prevented. That's the intent of this unit and the result of joint cooperation of law enforcement."

The weapons were forwarded to the Baltimore County's Firearms Identification Unit, and a firearms examiner discovered that the shotgun had the barrel sawed off four inches below the length required by law. The shotgun also had a shortened stock and pistol grip installed, which were also not standard. As a result, this weapon was illegal to possess in Maryland unless properly registered with the Federal government, which it was not.

The examiner also found that the SKS rifle had been modified, as a collapsable stock was installed which would aid in concealment, a scope was installed to improve accuracy at distances, a pistol grip was added to permit it to be fired much like a handgun, and changes were made so that high-capacity magazines could be used. As to the changes to the ammo capacity, the modifications permitted 38 round magazines, which the detectives had found loaded with the weapon, to be used. The change that made possession illegal was the alteration of the trigger assembly so the rifle could operate as a fully automatic machine gun. The weapon could be switched from it's normal semi-automatic firing mode to a fully automatic mode by the use of a homemade key that could be inserted to an area that had been drilled into the trigger assembly. The firearms expert testified that this weapon was modified by someone after they purchased it in its standard condition, and that it was not manufactured this way. The firearms examiner further testified that while operating in its fully automatic mode, the 38 round clips found with the weapon could be discharged in just a few seconds. This weapon was then determined to not be registered with the State as a machine gun as is required by law.

The third weapon retrieved from Smith, the AK47, also had several "after-market" modifications, but none that made the weapon illegal. The weapon had been legally purchased, and Smith was able to legally possess the weapon at that time as it only operated in semi-automatic mode.

After these weapons had all been examined, two Baltimore County Detectives involved with the case met with Smith and confronted him with the lab's analysis of the weapons, and the information regarding Smith's efforts to sell the weapons from the suspect who initially reported him. Smith ultimately admitted to having performed the modifications to both the shotgun and SKS rifle. He further admitted that he knew that they had to be registered, and that he didn't do so. Smith also confessed that he did attempt to sell the AK-47, the SKS rifle which was now a machine gun, and the sawed-off shotgun to individuals that he didn't know very well. Smith further confirmed that he wanted $2,000 for the machine gun, but a discussion was had with these individuals about whether Smith would take jewelry or two pounds of marijuana for the machine gun. Smith informed officers that while he wanted the money, he knew people that would permit him to move two pounds of marijuana relatively quickly. Evidence showed that just days after this conversation regarding selling the guns took place, and before any transactions occurred, the Baltimore County detectives seized the weapons.

This case was investigated by the Baltimore County's Firearms Violence Team and was prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, Firearms Trafficking Unit, Criminal Investigations Division. Funding for Operation Crime Gun comes from a grants received from the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention, and the Maryland State Police Cease Fire Council.

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