Jury to decide Orange Park machine gun parts case, judge says

Orange Park man accused of sending more than 1,200 unregistered devices to convert rifles into machine guns will have to let a jury decide his fate, said a judge who on Thursday refused to dismiss an indictment of 14 charges.

Kristopher J. Ervin’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard to dismiss the case, arguing that no crime had been committed because the unregistered devices Ervin had legally sent were not not gun parts.

But the judge said it was not his call to make without a trial.

“It’s a decision a jury has to make,” Howard said of the arguments that the credit card-sized metal bands sold by Ervin under the product name AutoKeyCard were not coins. designed for the conversion of machine guns.

Ervin, 41, could theoretically be sentenced to 140 years in prison if convicted of anything in the indictment accusing him of unlawful possession and delivery of unregistered converter devices as well as of measures to prevent a credit union from reporting $ 68,000 in income it deposited. the.

But the case would collapse if a court ruled that AutoKeyCard parts are not considered conversion devices – which the law treats as firearms – because they could not be used to make a fully semi-automatic rifle. automatic without further machining.

AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles similar to the one in this 2016 photo are sometimes made into machine guns with conversion devices called auto-sears.  Kristopher Ervin of Orange Park has been indicted on federal gun charges for sending in hundreds of items that prosecutors say work like auto-sears.

“In law, is it a firearm or not? Defense attorney Alex King summed up the issue he wanted Howard to decide without a trial.

No dice, said the judge.

“The government is allowed to present its evidence at trial,” Howard said, adding that there were cases of appeal that made it clear that judges could not make decisions like this.

Instead, the judge postponed the case to a trial date in October after King said he needed time to decide whether expert witnesses were needed for the defense and to prepare them, if necessary.

Ervin was arrested on March 3 and held without bail for operating an online business focused on AutoKeyCard items. Prosecutors said the company made about $ 130,000 in profit between November and February while sending more than 1,200 packages containing AutoKeyCard items, which contained laser-etched images that a federal agent tracked with a Dremel. to make a conversion device.

The case was followed by some gun rights activists, saying the charges were unconstitutional by federal authorities.

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