A Haines jury on Wednesday failed to come to a consensus in the trial of local 29-year-old Ted Hart.
Hart was charged with two felonies when two handguns were found by police officers in the house where Hart lived while he was on probation for a felony DUI.
One charge is for possession of a concealable firearm and the other is for knowingly living in a residence with a concealable firearm.
At Hart’s trial Tuesday, almost every seat in the courtroom was filled with Hart’s family and friends.
As described by witnesses at the trial, Hart’s probation officer stopped by the house where he lives in August of 2014 with Haines Police Officer Adam Patterson. When Patterson searched the house, he found a .22 revolver in Hart’s brother’s room. When officers asked Hart if there were other weapons in the house, he told them there was a gun in his bedroom. Officers found a .357 Ruger in his closet.
It is illegal for felons to possess or live in a residence with firearms that are able to be concealed, like handguns.
During the trial, defense attorney Tim Ayer requested Judge Keith Levy dismiss both charges since he said there was no evidence Hart “exerted control on the guns” and no evidence he knew about the gun in his brother’s room.
After examining prior case law, Judge Levy dismissed the first charge against Hart – the charge of possession of a concealable weapon. Levy said he interpreted the case law to require more than a weapon sitting in someone’s bedroom to constitute “possession.”
Levy declined to dismiss the other charge – that Hart knowingly lived in a dwelling with a concealable weapon.
In closing arguments, prosecutor and District Attorney Amy Williams showed a document that Hart signed saying he understood the conditions of his parole, including the firearm prohibition.
Defense attorney Ayer said Hart was given permission to go moose hunting when he was on probation. Ayer asked the jury, considering that, is it unreasonable that he thought it was okay to have a gun in the residence?
After about half a day of deliberations Wednesday, the jury said they could not reach a unanimous decision. The judge declared a mistrial.
Prosecutor Williams says she plans to pursue a retrial for the one count that the judge did not dismiss. The retrial is scheduled for May 4th.