Shotgun Trial

Posted April 28, 2008 at 6:36pm

Michael Gorbey, the man accused of carrying a shotgun near the Capitol this winter, faced one less charge as his trial opened Monday afternoon.

Before the trial began, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff dropped a charge alleging that Gorbey was carrying a certain type of ammunition when he was arrested Jan. 18. Prosecutors found that he wasn’t carrying that type at all, though he is still charged with possessing a slew of other types of ammunition without registration, as well as the materials for a weapon of mass destruction.

[IMGCAP(1)]Gorbey and Kerkhoff also argued over the language for a statement to be read by the judge during the trial, or “curative instructions.” Kerkhoff asked for the word “evidence” to be removed from the phrase “There is no evidence and no allegations that Mr. Gorbey intended to harm the Supreme Court or Chief Justice John Roberts.” Gorbey, meanwhile, argued to keep it in.

“A person could be going to court in a Sherman tank,” Gorbey said. “There isn’t any evidence that he was going to harm anyone.”

Kerkhoff got her way in the end, and the trial in D.C. Superior Court began in the late afternoon. Associate Judge Gregory Jackson adjourned the proceedings after informing the jury of its duties.

The trial is expected to last until at least next week, with both sides calling dozens of witnesses. Gorbey is representing himself, with help from court- appointed “standby counsel.”

Gorbey will be forced to remain mostly stationary during the trial. The U.S. Marshals Service has required that he wear leg irons, and, on Monday, Jackson asked Gorbey to conceal that fact from jury members so they would not know he was in custody.

Capitol Police arrested Gorbey on Jan. 18 after officers allegedly saw him walk toward the Supreme Court with a shotgun in hand. Investigators later found explosive materials in a green pickup truck that authorities believe Gorbey drove to Capitol Hill.

A Great Gardener. The executive director of the Botanic Garden will be given the 2008 Great American Gardeners Award by the American Horticultural Society, the Architect of the Capitol announced Monday.

Holly Shimizu will receive the award at a ceremony on June 6. The honor is given to a public garden administrator whose professional work has “cultivated widespread interest in horticulture,” according to the AOC.

Shimizu has served as the Botanic Garden’s executive director since 2000. In that position, she has overseen a major renovation of the conservatory and developed the National Garden, which opened in 2006.

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