WASHINGTON - A sentencing hearing for a D.C. man accused of selling guns on Facebook came to an abrupt halt Friday when the judge questioned the authenticity of the evidence.
Prosecutors wanted to quadruple the sentence for Allan James based on videos and photos of James holding pistols and rifles. However, the judge was skeptical and asked prosecutors how they knew if the weapons were real.
In the evidence that has been presented by prosecutors, there are a number of photos and videos showing James holding weapons. But prosecutors admitted in court on Friday that only one of those guns has been seized by police.
The judge said sending James to prison based solely on the photos would be unprecedented. Now, the judge wants to hear from a firearms expert and asked prosecutors to present one for a future hearing.
Some of the photos prosecutors said James used on social media showed him holding an AR-15-style assault rifle in a bathrobe. In his bathrobe pocket, prosecutors pointed out he had a pistol with an extended clip.
As we pointed out in our report when James was arrested last year, he was not shy about his sales. In one video, he showed some pistols for sale with the text on the screen saying, "Back on dat action” with three gun emojis.
In its memorandum for sentencing, prosecutors point out James is no stranger to the criminal justice system and was under investigation by the FBI when D.C. police arrested him in possession of a 9 mm pistol.
His sales were so overt that even his mother scolded him on Facebook writing, “Really Allan that video. Wow. When are you going to get it. Everybody know you strapped. You have to broadcast it.”
Prosecutors also point out that James continued his sales after being arrested on the gun charge. On his phone, they found a conversation with a potential buyer.
Under a picture of the weapon for sale, the person wrote, “That’s a 40?”
James replies, "Yea."
The person then wrote:
"I want it”
At the time of James’ arrest. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said his detectives keep an eye on social media looking out for illegal sales just like these.
"It's very disturbing. The problem that we have with violent crime in the city, I have said it over and over again, is illegal firearms,” said Newsham. “If somebody is purchasing a firearm through the internet, it’s just as disturbing to me if somebody was to pull up and sell a gun out of the trunk of their car.”
Prosecutors said there is evidence to show James sold between eight and 24 firearms over a period of a year and half.
Prosecutors want the judge to sentence James to eight years in prison. However, under the regular guidelines for what he has already pleaded guilty to, it would be far less.