Monthly Archives: January 2017

‘Gun enthusiast’ guilty of scaring mother

By Michael Rellahan, Daily Local News

WEST CHESTER >> A Common Pleas Court jury has found a Tredyffrin man who was described as a “gun enthusiast” by his attorney of trying to scare his mother by cocking a gun behind her, leaving her terrified that he might shoot her.

On Thursday, the panel of six men and six women handed down the verdict against Martin “Marty” Kleiber on charges of possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault, and terroristic threats. The panel had deliberated about 7 1/2 hours over two days before returning with their unanimous decision in Judge William P. Mahon’s courtroom. Mahon also found Kleiber guilty of a summary count of harassment.

Kleiber, 36, of Wayne was returned to Chester County Prison, where he has been held on bail since his arrest in May. He will be sentenced in May.

The charges, according to Assistant District Attorney Alex Gosfield, who prosecuted the case, stem from an incident at the home Kleiber shared with mother, 77-year-old Joyce Kleiber.

As Joyce Kleiber walked down a set of stairs in the home with Martin Kleiber behind her, she later told police that she heard the distinctive sound of a semi-automatic pistol being cocked, its top slide being “racked” to put a bullet into the firing chamber.

Because she and her son had engaged in a series of disturbing confrontations involving his ownership of a number of weapons, including the handgun and several semi-automatic rifles, she did not know what her son was planning when he cocked the gun, Gosfield said.

But in attempting to rebut the prosecution’s case, defense attorney Terrence Marlowe of Downingtown told the jury that his client had not meant to terrorize his mother, and was simply “exercising his right” to possess firearms. He claimed the charges were manufactured against his client because of a family dispute involving one of Martin Kleiber’s older sisters.

Marlowe likened the situation to the dysfunctional family relationships in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and the popular television series, “Game of Thrones.”

In her testimony, Joyce Kleiber said that the incident with the handgun occurred on May 6, 2016. When she heard the gun cock, she said, “I got very frightened. I heard the sound of a gun clicking two times. I was scared out of my mind.”

Gosfield had one of the deputy sheriffs assigned to Mahon’s courtroom replicate the sound by cocking a similar handgun behind Joyce Kleiber as she sat on the witness stand. She said she was certain that was the sound she had heard on the stairs.

Because she and her son, the youngest of her four children, had argued over his use of guns in the home, she said she was uncertain what his intentions were. “I didn’t know if Martin was scaring me or had something else in mind,” she told Gosfield. “I was shocked. At some point I thought I was in danger.”

The confrontations between the two included her telling him she did not want guns in the house, and his possession of two rifles and the handgun, and telling her if she did not like them she could “move out.” Another time, he said that if she ever called the police on him, “there would be bullet holes in the walls.” Still again, he said that chronic pain he suffered from made him so angry, “he feels like going into town and shooting people at random.”

He also threatened to begin operating a methamphetamine lab in the basement, which could end up with the house “blowing up,” Joyce Kleiber testified.

On cross examination, however, she said that she had never seen her son point the handgun at her, and that she was never hurt or physically assaulted by him that day. She did not immediately call police, but later told a neighbor and her daughter about what happened and that they pressured her into reporting the incident to Tredyffrin police.

She also, however, told Gosfield that she had left the home the following day and had moved out of the area to get away from her son.

Martin Kleiber, who has an earlier conviction for drug possession, was charged on May 8, 2016.

Taking the stand in his own defense, he contended that he had not meant to threaten his mother, but acknowledged that he did have the gun in his hand when she heard it click.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

Ft. Lauderdale Shooting: and gun restraining orders

CSGV Statement: Fort Lauderdale Shooting Illustrates Need For Gun Violence Restraining Order Laws in More States

Many questions remain, but history of domestic violence and apparent descent into crisis should have raised sufficient concerns to temporarily remove shooter’s firearms

Statement from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Joshua Horwitz:

“The horrific shooting yesterday at the baggage claim of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is a sobering reminder that our ongoing gun violence epidemic does not disappear with a new year or a new president. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families affected by this tragedy.

“While the facts are still emerging, policymakers across the nation should remember that there are legislative options to provide preventative tools to law enforcement and concerned family members. California and Washington state have recently enacted laws that allow courts to temporarily remove firearms from individuals displaying signs of dangerousness (Gun Violence Restraining Order in California and Extreme Risk Protection Order in Washington). New data examining a similar Connecticut law indicates that these policies are highly effective. As legislatures across the nation return to work this month, we call on more states to consider this life-saving tool.”

 

The Hidden Gun Epidemic: Suicides

editorial, New York Times, 1/9/17. See also our post from States United to Prevent Gun Violence here including the quote “A gun in the home is 22x more likely to be used in a suicide, homicide, or unintentional shooting than for self defense.”

Ralph Demicco, a gun shop owner in Hooksett, N.H., was shocked in 2009 when three of his customers bought handguns and committed suicide over five days in separate shootings. He encountered firsthand the stark, barely noticed fact that more than 60 percent of the nation’s 30,000-plus gun deaths each year are acts of suicide, not accidents or homicidal attacks. In New Hampshire, where the suicide rate is 31 percent higher than the national average, over 85 percent of firearm deaths are suicides.

The dealer reviewed the shop’s surveillance tapes. There were no giveaway signs of the troubles driving these customers to shoot themselves. “It’s just an ugly, ugly thing,” Mr. Demicco later told researchers for Harvard University’s School of Public Health. “I decided I must become involved.”

Handgun discharges, killing Press Herald columnist M.D. Harmon at his home

Sadly, here is yet another story of an improperly secured gun leading to tragic consequences for a family. In Portland Press Herald, 12/29/16

Maine State Police and Sanford police are investigating the shooting death of Portland Press Herald columnist M.D. Harmon at his home Wednesday afternoon in Sanford.

Police say Michael D. Harmon, 71, died at his home on Brunelle Avenue after a handgun he was showing to a teenage boy went off while the 16-year-old was handling it.

M.D. Harmon worked for the Portland newspapers for 41 years before retiring in 2011. Harmon, shown at top left in 1972 when he was named city editor, continued to write an opinion column for Portland Press Herald until the time of his death Wednesday in a shooting at his home.

Harmon, a steadfast defender of gun rights and a champion of conservative viewpoints, was a longtime editor and columnist for the Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. …

read more at Portland Press Herald