Seized weapons displayed in Tabassi trial

Gun dealer is charged with endangering child

April 28, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Jurors in the trial of a Carroll County man accused of keeping loaded firearms within reach of a sleeping 12-year-old girl were given a close-up view yesterday of several weapons, including submachine guns.

Trooper Michael Nichols, a firearms examiner with the Maryland State Police, gave the six women and six men on the jury a lesson in guns, using as props some of the weapons recovered from the Mount Airy home of licensed gun dealer Amir H. Tabassi.

On the second day of Tabassi's trial in Circuit Court on charges of reckless endangerment, assistant attorneys general Clarence Goetz and Paul Budlow told the jury that Tabassi kept an array of guns and ammunition at his house, and that some of the material might have been accessible to children visiting his home.

FOR THE RECORD - In an article yesterday about the trial of a Carroll County gun dealer, a state police officer was misidentified. Detective Sgt. Michael Brady testified that he heard the defendant contradict himself on why a 12-year-old girl was sleeping in a bedroom filled with loaded weapons. The Sun regrets the error.

Tabassi, 55, of the 5000 block of Ridge Road, was arrested Aug. 5 after a police search yielded more than 100 weapons and gun accessories at his house. State police testified that they found unsecured weapons strewn throughout the house in closets, dresser drawers, in a duffel bag and on a bed. Some of the guns were loaded.

Retired Judge Vincent J. Femia, who is presiding at the trial, ruled last month that most of the weapons had to be returned to Tabassi and could not be used as evidence. The exceptions to his ruling are the submachine guns found in the house and weapons found in his bedroom, where police woke a sleeping 12-year-old girl Tabassi described as the younger sister of a houseguest.

State troopers testified yesterday and Monday that Tabassi changed his story about why the girl was in his bedroom.

State police 1st Sgt. Michael Grady said he knew Tabassi from his gun shop in Frederick and greeted the man while police conducted a search of his house. Other officers have testified that they found the house cluttered.

"He explained to me why the house was in such disarray - that there were fleas in the house," Grady testified yesterday. "He said the reason the minor child was in his bedroom was because his bedroom was not infested with fleas and he had instructed her to get some rest."

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Byron Black showed that Grady had made no such note of the comment in his report.

When Tabassi saw the girl speaking with police, Grady said, the gun dealer became agitated and yelled at her not to talk to the police.

Grady testified that's when "he told me she was not supposed to be in that room."

Nichols, the firearms examiner, removed several boxed guns from a mail cart in front of the jury panel. About 10 of the long boxes contained submachine guns, including an Uzi, a Beretta 9 mm and an MK 760 - all of which use handgun ammunition instead of rifle ammunition. Police said these weapons were found in a closet in another bedroom, where police also found clothes and children's toys.

State police said that civilians as well as law enforcement personnel can purchase the submachine guns if they pass extensive background checks. The weapons Tabassi owned - such as an HK MP5k submachine gun - are worth thousands of dollars, authorities said.

The trial is expected to conclude today. Tabassi faces another trial on reckless endangerment charges for keeping weapons at the house where his two young children from a previous marriage had recently visited.

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