New year brings new charges for repeat gun offenders

Last year, I blogged about some of the hundreds of gun-related cases prosecuted in Hennepin County.  I'll keep following county gun cases this year too, and will update The Cities each month with some noteworthy items.

Repeat offenders

In the first few weeks of the new year, two men charged with gun crimes in 2013 have been arrested and charged again with gun-related offenses.

According to charges filed in Hennepin County District Court, on Jan. 14, Nathan Sims Jr., 21, was arrested after police caught him with a sawed-off shotgun.  That came a year and a day after Sims was caught with a "replica pistol."  Sims is legally prohibited from possessing firearms, which in Minnesota also means a BB gun or CO2 pellet gun.

Last May, Sims pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years probation.  However, the sentence also came with a five-year prison term to be imposed if Sims failed to successfully complete his probation.

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Bernard Miles Jr., 24, was charged on Jan. 13 for illegally possessing a .380-caliber pistol.  Last year, Miles was charged with illegally possessing a loaded, .45-caliber Llama pistol.  However, prosecutors dismissed the charges after the court suppressed the discovery of an extended magazine found by police in the trunk of the car Miles was riding in. 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman wrote the court to explain his decision, "The state of MN hereby dismisses the this time the state is unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt as a result of the court's order dated 10/2/2013 suppressing necessary evidence."

Miles was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm in 2009 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Self-described permit holder charged with threatening cab driver

Minneapolis police say on Jan. 4, Michael David Kochevar, 56, threatened a cab driver at gun point near the Bobby and Steve's gas station on Washington Ave. downtown.  According to charges filed in Hennepin County District Court, Kochevar told the man he should "go back to Somalia," and at one point, pointed a gun at him and said, "I should kill you ... you f****** terrorist." And, "I'm going to blow your head off!"  Police say Kochevar told them he has a permit to carry a handgun. He was charged with second degree assault and making terroristic threats.

Charges: man carrying BB gun ditched weapon before entering jail building

Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputies arrested a 20-year-old man after he allegedly brought a BB gun into the lobby of the county's public safety facility - also known as the jail.  According to the complaint, Robertlee Trent Ware carried a loaded .6mm BB gun into the building, but ditched it in a trash can when he saw signs saying firearms are prohibited in the facility.  Ware was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon in a courthouse, which is a felony offense.