Gunsmith Convicted Now Awaits Sentencing

Brooklyn resident Dexter Taylor was recently convicted of 13 weapons charges after being arrested in 2020 for building his own firearms. The 52-year-old software engineer’s case has caught the attention of many as it has the potential to become a landmark Second Amendment case, especially in light of a ruling made in the same year by the Bruen court.

Taylor’s legal troubles began when a joint task force between the ATF and NYPD discovered that he was legally purchasing firearm parts from various companies. This led to a SWAT raid and his subsequent arrest on 13 weapons charges related to the building of his own guns. He is currently being held at Rikers Island as he awaits sentencing.

During an interview with Vinoo Varghese, Taylor’s defense lawyer, it was revealed that Taylor’s trial was heavily biased in favor of the prosecution. Varghese stated that the court would often interrupt his opening statements and had even admonished the defense not to mention the Second Amendment during the trial. Varghese also stated that the judge had rejected their appeals and limited their arguments during the trial.

According to Varghese, Taylor became interested in gunsmithing during the COVID-19 lockdowns and decided to turn it into a hobby. He built a total of eight pistols and five or six AR-style rifles, along with eight or nine Glock pistols. However, the prosecution attempted to portray Taylor as a dangerous individual who was building dangerous firearms in his basement. They even objected to having Taylor’s family present in the courtroom to show support.

The lawyers were not allowed to call a witness who was Taylor’s upstairs neighbor and knew about his hobby. During the prosecution’s opening statement, they attempted to paint Taylor as a potential threat and a person with ill intentions, stating that the guns he was building were meant to harm others. Varghese had countered this narrative during his opening statement, but the judge had interrupted him, stating that there was no crime being alleged and reminded him that this was New York.

During the trial, Varghese stated that the only hope for his client was jury nullification, which is when jurors believe that the defendant may have violated a law but decide against convicting them because they disagree with the law itself. However, the judge attempted to shut down this argument and even threatened the jury with consequences if they did not vote to convict Taylor. Varghese argued that jury nullification was allowed, as per a High Court ruling in New York.

On April 16, the jury returned with a verdict, finding Taylor guilty of all but two counts. He was immediately taken into custody. After the verdict was read, Taylor’s family was emotional, with his mother crying in the back of the courtroom. He turned to his lawyer and requested that he comfort his mother. Varghese stated that Taylor also turned to his mother and said, “God bless you, mom.” He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13, and could face between 10 and 18 years in prison.

Despite the guilty verdict, Taylor and Varghese are not giving up the fight and plan on taking the case to federal court and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. They believe they have a chance at winning and are committed to fighting for Taylor’s rights. In the meantime, his family has set up a fundraiser to help with his legal fees.

This case has sparked a larger debate about the Second Amendment and the rights of individuals to build their own firearms, and many will be closely watching as it progresses through the appeals process.


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