June 23, 2018
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Judge: Gunsmith can possess guns pending trial on threatening charge

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 50-year-old Vinalhaven man accused of pointing a shotgun at a home foreclosure worker will be allowed to possess guns for certain purposes while he awaits trial.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm agreed to the defense’s request to modify bail conditions to allow Dana Blackington to possess guns as part of his job — as a gunsmith. Blackington also will be allowed to possess guns while he teaches the only gun safety course offered to hunters on Vinalhaven.

But the judge rejected a request to allow Blackington to have a gun for the upcoming deer hunting season.

Blackington was charged earlier this year with felony level criminal threatening. The alleged victim told police that Blackington pointed a shotgun at him when he went to change the locks on Blackington’s home on July 21 as part of a foreclosure action.

But attorney James Mason, who represented Blackington for the Wednesday hearing in Knox County Superior Court, said Blackington disputes the charge. Mason asked that Blackington be allowed to possess a gun for his trade, during the teaching of the hunter safety course, and during the three-week hunting season that ends on the final Saturday of November.

The attorney said his client disputes that his house was even the target of being foreclosed and that he found the man on his porch. Blackington remains the owner of the property, according to town and county registry records.

Defense attorney Jeff Baroody said that the alleged victim in this case had been told by his company that the house was vacant and did not realize it was occupied until he arrived to change the locks.

The prosecutor asked that the gun prohibition be retained as part of Blackington’s bail, saying there were witnesses to the incident.

Mason said a gun ban would be a hardship on Blackington and his family since he would not be able to work. The gun safety course also is important to islanders, the attorney said. The need for a gun during hunting season was to allow him to put food on the table, he said.

The victim in the case does not even live on the island and thus is not at risk if Blackington possesses a gun, Mason argued.

Hjelm rejected the request for Blackington to have a gun during hunting season, saying his use of a weapon would be too unstructured.

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