Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle has denied a straw purchaser’s request to dismiss charges on the grounds of unconstitutionality, according to an article in the Altoona Mirror – read the full article here.
The defendant, Brenda Shultz, 52, purchased a .45 caliber pistol for her boyfriend, Jeffrey Michael, in 2011 because he was unsure whether or not his protection-from-abuse (PFA) order had expired. In most cases, a person with a PFA order is legally barred from purchasing or possessing a firearm during the life of said order as long as the judge does not make a special provision.
Michael used the pistol to shoot and kill three people on January 29, 2011 before he was mortally wounded in a shootout with state police.
Shultz’s attorney attempted to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the language in the state statute defining to whom a person is allowed to transfer a firearm is ambiguous. On the form Shultz signed at the time of purchase, she claimed to be the “actual purchaser” even though she was intending to give the weapon to Michael. The attorney claims that Shultz and Michael were “co-habitants,” a category not addressed in the state statute.
Judge Doyle denied the request; stating that, “for a law to be void due to vagueness, it must be ‘so vague that persons of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application.’”
Shultz will stand trial for straw purchasing on a date later to be determined.