February 20, 2013
Gun Control: What Happened When a Gun Enthusiast Tried to Stop the Sale of Weapons (the case of Rodney K. Stanberry)
What happens when a gun enthusiast and hunter, earns a decent paycheck and earns enough money to buy a collection of weapons, as a hobby? He will meet and become friends with gun and hunting enthusiasts. What happens when that person is confronted with people who see his guns obtained legally and want to take them to another state to use for illegal means? Let’s say from Mobile, Alabama to New York. The first reaction of a gun enthusiast would be to say no, partner, I can’t let you have my guns, or any guns, for that matter. This is the action that we would want someone to take. This is what Rodney K. Stanberry did and, as a result, he is about to begin his 17th year in prison for crimes he did not commit.
As you can read in this LagniappeMobile article from 2009, Rodney K. Stanberry adopted to being a good ole southern boy who liked to hunt: “**A Black Redneck**
When Rodney was 17, his father moved the family from New York to the community of Axis. The elder Stanberry feared the emerging street culture of New York City and the effect it might have on his son. Rodney reveled in the move, taking up hunting and fishing. A self-described “black redneck,” he loved guns and shooting and quickly became familiar with a South Alabama way of life. After having trouble with his infatuation with a white girl and finding work as a sanitation truck driver, he settled down to enjoy life. Then he met Mike Finley, a kindred spirit. They enjoyed guns, ate dinner on Sundays, went shooting as much as they could, and owned many of the same types of weapons. Valerie knew him as part of the family. Mike and Valerie lived in a small house at the end of a cul de sac in Whistler (http://classic.lagniappemobile.com/article.asp?articleID=2332)”
Rodney was a hardworking, young man with a bank account, a job that paid well, two parents married for as long as he had been alive, a sister in college, a middle class background and mentality, no worries, he lived a carefree lifestyle. He did not have a criminal background, and he was not part of any criminal element. He was a young man who worked hard and enjoyed life. He worked hard and played hard. But he also crossed social taboos in choosing the people he dated, and this, too, may have played a role in his arrest and conviction. His “infatuation with a white girl” was a mutual infatuation, but Rodney suffered the negative side of this social taboo at the time. Nevertheless, Rodney was gainfully employed, enjoyed life, and enjoyed being with his family and friends. One Mardi Gras season, in 1992, Rodney invited his childhood friends to Mobile, Alabama including the person who would commit a very violent act while in Mobile. Rodney was connected to Angel “Wish” Melendez in that he fathered a child with Melendez’s sister- he wanted to reconnect with the child, but had no idea of what would transpire during an innocent invite to Mobile to experience Mardi Gras- an invitation that would cost two families decades of anguish.
In Mobile- An Introduction to Rodney’s New Life of a Southern Boy and Gun Enthusiast
When his friends came to Mobile, Rodney took them around town, even taking them to see his good friend Mike Finley, this isn’t unusual as they were hunting and shooting partners and Rodney was a regular at the Finley house. Rodney’s friends would see weapons owned by both the victim’s husband and owned by Rodney and during the course of the visit, they would go target shooting. Once his friends saw his weapons, they wanted some of them. Rodney said no, he told the victim’s husband to not sell them any guns because he feared that they would take them to New York and commit crimes. Once the victim’s husband told his friends that Rodney did not want any guns to be sold to them, his friends shut Rodney out of the conversation about weapons and out of the loop. You can read this portion of the trial transcript featuring the victim’s husband, under oath, admitting that Rodney would not sell weapons to his friends and told the husband to not sell them weapons. Further, the victim’s husband talks about how both he and Rodney visited guns shows and the person the victim’s husband purchased weapons from to specifically sell the guys from New York was met in that way (these weapons would not be traced back because of the Gun Show Loophole-http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/M_Finley_Section_1.255154125.pdf.
Would someone who is trying to stop weapons from getting into the hands of people who would use them illegally then break into his friend’s home to help his friends obtain weapons? It makes no sense in no one’s world but the Mobile District Attorney’s Office that let the theory drive the investigation, as opposed to the facts (their theory was a murder for hire, which they never charged anyone based on this theory).
After the gun buy was set up by the victim’s husband, both [the victim] witnessing it, Rodney’s friends wanted more, they hooked up with another friend in Mobile and while Rodney was at work, they got a driver- the person who confessed to take them to the victim’s house, on March 2, 1992, Fat Tuesday (the last day of Mardi Gras, for the uninitiated). Here is a link to Terrell Moore’s confession ((http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/the_confession-_testimonial_immunity_agreement) . It was a holiday and the victim was at her house, surprising the shooter and Moore, the only two people at the house, other than the victim. (Rodney was at work, his co-workers, supervisor, and work documents show this- he co-workers and supervisor testified under oath. He’d held the same job without missing work since 1989). Angel “Wish” Melendez and Terrell Moore entered the home, stole the weapons, and in the process, Wish brutally shot the victim in the head- please read this link (http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/the_shooter-_what_they_want_to_wish_away). The Mobile District Attorney’s Office wants to pretend that Wish never existed and that Terell Moore, someone who was not a friend of Rodney’s and someone with NO incentive to confess to a crime he did not commit, only confessed to cover for Rodney, so he is not to be believed.
The Assistant District Attorney Buzz Jordan, the prosecutor in Rodney’s case http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEVURKsGoMI ) travelled from Mobile to Rikers Island Prison in New York to visit the person he claims was the shooter (Wish died in a shoot-out before Rodney’s trial, they weren’t interested in Moore, so they were grasping at straws, hoping to implicate Rene Whitecloud and Rodney Stanberry). Whitecloud told the district attorney’s office what they didn’t want to hear; it was what he said earlier in a written statement, Wish and Moore went to the victim’s house, Rodney knew nothing about it (http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Rene_Whitecloud.26225239.pdf). To avoid sharing this, the Mobile District Attorney’s Office claimed that the prosecutor was on vacation when he visited Rikers Island prison, so no notes were taken. But, he said, Rene told him to follow the husband. A very convenient statement for him to “hear” to help convince the jury and the family that this wasn’t a burglary gone wrong; it was a murder for hire. He had NO evidence of this and charged no one for a murder for hire scheme, but persuaded the jury that even if Rodney was at work, he was involved in the setting up this shooting. Once again, it was Rodney, a legal gun owner, who tried to keep his friends from illegally purchasing weapons and obtaining weapons. He did not want people to obtain guns who were going to commit crimes, he tried to play crime fighter. Prosecutors claim to be pro-victim, but ask them if they would have cared if Rodney had just shut his mouth and let his friends have and take as many guns as they wanted back to New York. Would they care about the victims in those crimes?
The Gun Show Loophole
As mentioned, the victim’s husband, as he mentions in his trial testimony, bought weapons from a gun dealer met through a gun show and sold the weapons to Rodney’s friends AGAINST Rodney’s wishes. He got these weapons, and sold them to Rodney’s friends from New York, no background check, no paperwork, no paper trail, no one is the wiser. The guys could go back to New York with some weapons, the victim and her husband pockets money, end of story. Not quite, the guys from New York saw the weapons Rodney and the victim’s husband had and they wanted them, they wanted what Rodney refused to sell them and what Rodney tried to prevent them from getting. The weapon Wish purchased from the gun show dealer was used to shoot the victim. Rodney, a person who had weapons legally, a person who tried to stop people who wanted weapons illegally, was foiled by a desire by others to make a few bucks. If a “Gun Show Loophole” had existed, perhaps it would not have been so easy for people with criminal records and criminal intent to purchase weapons, the option would not have been on the table, and said gun would not have been used, at least not in this case, to shoot an innocent woman. It was too easy for a licensed dealer to sell a weapon to someone he dealt with at a gun show to sell weapons that were then sold to individuals from another state seeking to transport the weapons. And if this had not have occurred, an innocent man would not be about to begin his 17th year in prison for crimes he did not commit. We have to get a handle on the easy accessibility of weapons, and this can be done not by bothering people who obtain guns legally, but it can be done with sensible gun control measures, including closing the gun show loophole.