SEATTLE (AP) — A lawyer for the father of a Washington state teenager who fatally shot his classmates in a high school cafeteria in 2014 asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to throw out the father's conviction for illegally possessing firearms.
John Henry Browne told a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that prosecutors failed to prove Raymond Fryberg, 43, was served a 2002 domestic violence protection order that would have prohibited him from possessing firearms.
Fryberg's 15-year-old son Jaylen used one of his father's firearms in 2014 to kill four friends and then himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle.
Browne told the judges that Raymond Fryberg successfully passed several background checks, including one for a concealed-weapons permit, which shows that he did not know he was not supposed to have guns.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Miyake argued Fryberg was in court in 2012 for violating the protection order, so he knew about the prohibition. Mikyake said Fryberg lied when he didn't disclose the protection order when buying his guns.
Raymond Fryberg did not face any charges related to the school shooting, but was charged and convicted of illegally possessing firearms. He was sentenced in 2016 to two years in federal prison.
Fryeburg's former girlfriend and the mother of their child had secured the protection order in Tulalip Tribal Court in 2002, Browne said. The woman's brother worked for the tribal police and said he served Fryberg the order. But the brother died before Fryberg's trial, so he could not be questioned.
Browne said the order was never served.
Miyake said the defense argument was not valid because Fryberg was convicted of violating the order in 2012.
Judge Susan Graber focused her questions on another of Browne's claims — that the civil protection order unconstitutionally stripped Fryberg of his Second Amendment right to bear arms for life.
Browne also argued Fryberg's federal trial should have been moved to San Francisco or Los Angeles because there were people on the jury who had children at the Marysville high school, he said after the hearing. That deprived Fryberg of a fair trial, he said.
Judge Sandra Ikuta pointed out there were only a few months between the shooting and the trial and asked if it was an abuse of the judge's discretion to not change the venue.
Miyake said they started with 51 jurors, questioned 22 and released those who said they couldn't be fair.
"The size of the jury pool weighed strongly in our favor," he said.
This story has been corrected to show the judge's last name is Graber, not Garber.