A 42-year-old long-haul trucker from Arizona was sentenced to five years probation on Tuesday after bringing a pistol into the Tom Green County Courthouse on June 2.
The defendant, Martin Eugene Shaw, was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on a state jail felony burglary charge on June 2, and placed his briefcase on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed, which is when the gun was discovered.
Shaw’s defense attorney, John Young, said that his client had driven into San Angelo for the hearing and was running about five minutes late. The briefcase, he said, contained important paperwork and Shaw carried it with him everywhere.
“He didn’t even have to wait for the officer to turn around and look at him,” Young said. “He knew almost as soon as he put it [on the conveyor belt].”
Young called the incident an honest mistake and likened it to accidentally carrying a cell phone into a building where they are not allowed.
“We’ve all done it,” he said. “He just wasn’t thinking. There wasn’t any sinister motive behind it.”
Prosecuting Assistant District Attorney John Best echoed Young's sentiments with regard to intent. He said, "The deputies from the sheriff's office courthouse security did a great job of preventing the defendant from entering the courthouse with a weapon.There was no indication from the subsequent investigation that the defendant intended to use the weapon. Instead, it appeared that he simply forgot it was in his briefcase."
The weapon was a .22 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver with a six-inch barrel. The gun was also reported stolen in New Mexico in 2006. Shaw is from Arizona, however he alleged to have not known the gun was in the briefcase.
On Tuesday, Shaw was sentenced both for third-degree felony charge of carrying a weapon in a prohibited place and for the burglary. He received five years’ deferred adjudication probation and a $1,500 fine for each charge.
The burglary, court documents reveal, took place on Sept. 7, 2012. On that date, Shaw was caught at the Rockin’ Rodeo in San Angelo stealing nine pool balls, two two-way radios, a roll of string and reflective tape.