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Father of Marysville school shooter appeals firearms conviction

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Raymond Fryberg (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — The lawyer for the father of the Washington teenager who fatally shot his classmates in a high school cafeteria in 2014 asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to throw out the father’s conviction for illegally possessing firearms.

John Henry Browne told a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that prosecutors failed to prove Raymond Fryberg, 43, was served a 2002 domestic violence protection order, which would have prohibited him from possessing firearms.

Browne told the judges Fryberg successfully passed several background checks, including one for a concealed-weapons permit, which shows that he didn’t know he was not supposed to have guns.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Miyake argued Fryberg was in court in 2012 for violating the protection order, so he knew about the prohibition. Mikyake said Fryberg lied when he didn’t disclose the protection order when buying his guns.

Fryberg’s 15-year-old son Jaylen used one of his father’s firearms to kill four friends and then himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle.

Raymond Fryberg did not face any charges related to the school shooting, but was charged and convicted of illegally possessing firearms. He was sentenced in 2016 to two years in federal prison. He’s scheduled to be released Nov. 11, 2017.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Susan Garber focused her questions on another of Browne’s claims — that the civil protection order unconstitutionally striped Fryberg of his Second Amendment right to bear arms for life.

Browne argued that civil protection orders infringe on a person’s constitutional right to have firearms, and the 9th Circuit court has never addressed the issue.

Garber said a statue that allows a tribal court to deprive someone of his Second Amendment rights “strikes me as a serious issue.” Browne said it’s a national issue that will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other questions centered on whether Fryberg was served that first domestic violence protection order.

His former girlfriend and the mother of their child had secured the order in the Tulalip Tribal Court in 2002, Browne said. The woman’s brother worked for the tribal police and said he served Fryberg the order. But the brother died before Fryberg’s trial, so he could not be questioned.

Browne said the order was never served. It states that violation of the order will result in jail time. Browne said that was motivation to not serve it.

Judge Andrew Hurwitz asked, “you can’t trust this because the guy was the brother-in-law of the wife?”

Miyake said the argument doesn’t hold because Fryberg was convicted of violating the order in 2012 and he never raised the issue of not being served.

“He indicated that he had been served nine or 10 years earlier,” Miyake said, but acknowledged that “it’s not crystal clear” that he was ever handed the order.

Browne also argued Fryberg’s federal trial should have been moved to San Francisco or Los Angeles. There were people on the jury who had children at the Marysville high school, he said after the hearing. That deprived Fryberg of a fair trial, he said.

Judge Sandra Ikuta pointed out that there were only a few months between the shooting and the trial and asked if it was an abuse of the judge’s discretion to not change the venue.

Miyake said they started with 51 jurors, questioned 22 and released those who said they couldn’t be fair.

“The size of the jury pool weighed strongly in our favor,” he said.

The judges said they would issue a ruling at a later date.