Twelve Prince George’s County jurors began considering Tuesday afternoon whether a county police officer accused of selling guns he had seized from criminals — or, at least, distributing them to his associates — is guilty of theft and misconduct in office.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys finished closing arguments late Tuesday afternoon in the case of Juan Carter, 38. Carter is accused of selling or re-distributing guns he seized while working on a state-police run gun task force during 2008 and 2009.
Prosecutors say 21 guns he took from those not allowed to possess them never made it to the Prince George’s County police property room as they should have.
In their final pitches to jurors, attorneys waded through the nitty-gritty details of the evidence they have presented to jurors at Carter’s trial, which began last week.
The trial is Carter’s second on the same offense after one last year ended in a hung jury.
Prince George’s Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathon Church told jurors to focus on Carter’s various connections to criminals and associates who ended up with the guns he was supposed to have seized, and the fact that from April 23, 2008, to September 23, 2009, Carter did not turn over a single gun to the police department’s property room or file the requisite paperwork.
Church said that investigators only know about the 21 guns he took because paperwork from his supervisor showed their existence. He hinted that Carter’s misdeeds might go further.
“Let me be clear: That’s 21 firearms that we are aware of,” Church said.
Defense attorneys have said Carter was merely the “fall guy” for a state-police run task force beset by problems. In his closing argument, attorney Doug Wood said police only began investigating guns the task force was supposed to have when one was used in a shooting — even though others had already been recovered by law enforcement.
Jurors were not told the details of that shooting, in which an off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was shot during an attempted carjacking.
At that point, Wood said, authorities decided “Somebody has to pay. Somebody has to be the fall guy.”
Wood also highlighted inconsistencies, presenting jurors with a report filled out by a supervisor about a gun that later went missing from the property room.
As of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, jurors were still deliberating.