Court overturns ex-Army medic’s weapons conviction
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the acquittal of a former Army medic who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for transporting a knife and police baton in his vehicle during a move out of state.
Justices issued a 7-0 decision in the appeal of former Clinton resident Jason DeCiccio. The court said part of the state law on illegal possession of weapons in a motor vehicle violates the Second Amendment because it bans people from transporting weapons between residences when they have the right to possess those weapons in their homes.
Police discovered DeCiccio’s collection of knives and swords in his Jeep after he got into an accident in Clinton in 2010 while moving to Bolton, Massachusetts, to take a job as a claims processor with the U.S. Veterans Health Administration.
A state jury in Middletown convicted DeCiccio of two counts of illegally possessing a weapon in a motor vehicle for having a double-edged knife and a police baton in his car, and acquitted him of four similar counts involving two machetes, a sword and a knife. A judge sentenced him to 15 months in prison on Dec. 16, 2011.
State prosecutors declined to comment on the ruling Tuesday, saying they were still reviewing it.
A phone listing for DeCiccio could not be found Tuesdasy.
DeCiccio’s lawyer, Michael Zariphes, said he and his client are now considering a lawsuit over DeCiccio’s arrest and imprisonment.
“According to him, jail was a nightmare and it ruined his relationships with his family, his friends, his employment opportunities,” Zariphes said. “He was like, ‘I can’t believe this happened to me.’”
DeCiccio lost his job at the Veterans Health Administration because of the criminal case, Zariphes said.
The Supreme Court said in its decision that the swords, knives and other weapons found in DeCiccio’s vehicle were mementos from his military service overseas in Afghanistan, Germany and Kosovo. DeCiccio testified at his trial that he volunteered to serve in Kosovo and suffered a traumatic brain injury there when a mine exploded under his Humvee.
Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the decision that the dagger-type knife and police baton were legal for DeCiccio to possess, and he noted that state law bans possession of other weapons.
“The safe transportation of weapons protected by the Second Amendment is an essential corollary of the right to possess them in the home for self-defense when such transportation is necessary to effectuate that right,” Palmer wrote.