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Case Number: 2:22-cr-00145
Judge: Thomas E. Johnston
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Kanawha County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Charleston
Defendant's Attorney: Clay Harkins
Description: Charleston, West Virginia criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with felony transportation of a firearm.
On June 30, 2022, Charleston law enforcement officers responded to a report of shots fired on Leon Sullivan Way in Charleston. Officers encountered Kevin Gerard Denson, age 36, exiting a vehicle in an alley near Jet Life Apparel. Officers found two firearms in the vehicle, a Dickinson, model XXPA, 12-gauge shotgun and a Smith & Wesson, model M&P 15, 5.56-caliber rifle. Each firearm was loaded with a high-capacity drum magazine.
Officers also found a bullet hole at the entrance to Jet Life Apparel, and obtained a search warrant for the store’s video surveillance system. The footage showed Denson carrying the two firearms and Jonathan Kennedy, 41, of St. Albans, running across the store while holding the shotgun following an apparent altercation outside.
Federal law prohibits a person with a prior felony conviction from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Denson knew he was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of his prior felony conviction for delivery of cocaine in Kanawha Circuit Court on June 12, 2013.
The video surveillance footage showed Kennedy and Denson possessed the firearms after Jamon L. Woodson fired a pistol in the direction of Jet Life Apparel following an apparent verbal argument. Officers recovered a spent 9mm casing from the street near where the pistol was fired.
Woodson was sentenced to five years in prison on July 20, 2023, after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of ammunition. Kennedy was sentenced to three years in prison on August 1, 2023, after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“On a day when huge crowds were heading to the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta, Mr. Denson and Mr. Kennedy brandished firearms with large-capacity magazines after Mr. Woodson fired a pistol outside a downtown business in broad daylight. It is a miracle that no one was hurt,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “I commend the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Charleston Police Department, and the quick law enforcement response that prevented this disturbing incident from escalating.”
Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Nowles Heinrich prosecuted the case.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.