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Description: Salt Lake City, Utah criminal law lawyer represented Defendant charged with carrying and using a straight edge razor blade during a flight.
On November 21, 2022, Merrill Darrell Fackrell, age 41, from Syracuse, Utah, departed on JetBlue Flight #871 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York en route to Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah. Fackrell was seated in a window seat next to married passengers. During the flight, Fackrell placed his hand in front of the woman’s screen and told her to pause her movie. According to the complaint, the woman took off her headphones and realized Fackrell had his hand clutched with what appeared to her as a knife, inches from her skin at her throat/neck area. The woman’s husband went to the front of the aircraft to get assistance from the flight attendant. The woman lunged for the aisle to escape and Fackrell reached and tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder. The object was secured and later identified as a Facon wood-handled straight edge razor with a one-to-two-inch blade.
Assistant United States Attorney Michael Kennedy from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is prosecuting the case. The case is being investigated by Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI Task Force Officer.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
49 U.S.C. 46504 provides:
An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
49 U.S.C. 46505 provides:
In this section, “loaded firearm” means a starter gun or a weapon designed or converted to expel a projectile through an explosive, that has a cartridge, a detonator, or powder in the chamber, magazine, cylinder, or clip.
(b) General Criminal Penalty.—An individual shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, if the individual—
(1) when on, or attempting to get on, an aircraft in, or intended for operation in, air transportation or intrastate air transportation, has on or about the individual or the property of the individual a concealed dangerous weapon that is or would be accessible to the individual in flight;
(2) has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed a loaded firearm on that aircraft in property not accessible to passengers in flight; or
(3) has on or about the individual, or has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed on that aircraft, an explosive or incendiary device.
(c) Criminal Penalty Involving Disregard for Human Life.—
An individual who willfully and without regard for the safety of human life, or with reckless disregard for the safety of human life, violates subsection (b) of this section, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both, and, if death results to any person, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(d) Nonapplication.—Subsection (b)(1) of this section does not apply to—
(1) a law enforcement officer of a State or political subdivision of a State, or an officer or employee of the United States Government, authorized to carry arms in an official capacity;
(2) another individual the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration or the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration by regulation authorizes to carry a dangerous weapon in air transportation or intrastate air transportation; or
(3) an individual transporting a weapon (except a loaded firearm) in baggage not accessible to a passenger in flight if the air carrier was informed of the presence of the weapon.
If two or more persons conspire to violate subsection (b) or (c), and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be punished as provided in such subsection.
49 U.S.C. 46506 provides:
An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who commits an act that—
(1) if committed in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18) would violate section 113, 114, 661, 662, 1111, 1112, 1113, or 2111 or chapter 109A of title 18, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned under that section or chapter, or both; or
(2) if committed in the District of Columbia would violate section 9 of the Act of July 29, 1892 (D.C. Code §22-1112), shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned under section 9 of the Act, or both.
Outcome: An indictment is not proof of guilt.