Jury gets gun case of father of teen who shot classmates

By MARTHA BELLISLE, The Associated Press


SEATTLE — A federal jury began deliberating late Monday to decide if the father of the Washington teenager who fatally shot his high school classmates last fall is guilty of illegally having firearms.

Lawyers on both sides made their final arguments Monday afternoon in the trial of Raymond Fryberg, charged with six counts of illegally possessing guns, including the one his son, Jaylen, used to kill four friends and then himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Oct. 24.

Prosecutors said Fryberg was the subject of a 2002 domestic violence protection order, which meant he was prohibited from having guns.

Fryberg didn’t testify and his lawyers called no witnesses. Lawyer John Henry Browne said he didn’t need to because the government’s witnesses were all he needed to make his case that Fryberg was never served with notice of the protection order hearing, and thus is not guilty.

Fryberg passed at least a dozen background checks and no law enforcement agency ever said he was prohibited from owning guns, Browne told jurors.

The jury deliberated for an hour before being sent home. They’re scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ye-Ting Woo told the panel Fryberg was served with a notice about a hearing to discuss the protection order sought by his former girlfriend, but he chose to ignore it.

The Tulalip Tribal Court judge granted the order, but she said it was never entered into any state or federal databases, so when Fryberg went to Cabela’s to buy guns, he passed the background checks. Fryberg lied on the firearms purchasing forms when asked if he was the subject of a protection order and took the guns home, she said.

Federal agents only learned about the guns after the school shooting, but that incident was not discussed during the trial because Fryberg does not face any charges related to his son’s actions.

Browne told the jury they need to acquit Fryberg because prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Each charge requires that prosecutors prove that Fryberg was served with the notice of the protection order hearing and that he had the opportunity to be heard before the order was granted, but that didn’t happen, Browne said.

Prosecutors showed jurors a form that was filled out by a tribal police officer who claimed he served Fryberg at a certain corner in Tulalip weeks before the hearing.

But Browne argued that corner doesn’t exist – the streets listed don’t intersect. He also said the officer had a conflict of interest because he was married to the sister of the alleged victim.

“Do you think it’s appropriate to serve papers in a case where you’re related to those people?” Browne asked the jury.

The officer could not be called to testify because he recently died, Browne said.