The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 24, 2013

Judge upholds straw purchase ban in Blair County shooting

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County judge has rejected arguments that a state law banning straw purchases of guns is unconstitutionally vague in the case of a woman charged with illegally buying a gun her live-in boyfriend used when he fatally shot three people before state troopers killed him last year.

Judge Elizabeth Doyle upheld the law in a decision Wednesday in the case of Brenda Shultz, 52, of Hollidaysburg, the Altoona Mirror reports.

Shultz’s attorney, Lucas Kelleher, argued the law is vague and that the straw purchase law doesn’t specifically address people who buy guns for a partner when they live together.

Police allege Doyle bought the pistol from a sporting goods store in January 2011 for Jeffrey Lee Michael because she mistakenly believed a protection from abuse order Michaels’ estranged wife had obtained – which banned him from having guns – was still in effect. In fact, the court order had lapsed.

State police contend Michael, 44, used the weapon and others when he shot Kenneth Lynn, 60; Lynn’s son-in-law, William Rhodes Jr., 38; and Kimberly Scott, 58; at various locations along a rural road near Geeseytown on Dec. 21.

Michael was fatally shot by responding troopers after Michael wounded one trooper in the wrist then slammed his pickup into a cruiser injuring a second trooper.

Doyle in September ruled there was enough evidence for Shultz to stand trial on charges of making and writing false statements when she claimed to be the “actual buyer” of the gun on state and federal firearms forms.

Doyle agreed with District Attorney Richard Consiglio who argued that the firearms forms spell out that the person filling out the forms must be purchasing the gun for themselves.

Shultz “was clearly not the actual buyer of the firearm because she bought it for Michael,” Consiglio said in his legal brief.

Shultz is awaiting trial on the charges.

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