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Gorbey Trial Closes; Jurors Start Deliberations

The trial of Michael Gorbey came to a close Thursday in much the same way as it began — with Gorbey blaming a government conspiracy for charges that he came to Capitol Hill with a loaded shotgun in hand.

Jurors start deliberations Thursday afternoon on whether Gorbey is guilty of 14 charges stemming from his arrest Jan. 18, when Capitol Police officers allegedly found him carrying a loaded shotgun, a sword and dozens of rounds of ammunition.

Two of those charges relate to the alleged bomb found in his truck three weeks later: one for attempting to manufacture a weapon of mass destruction; the other for possessing it.

In his closing statement Thursday, Gorbey repeatedly blamed prosecutors and the government for creating evidence and doctoring documents.

Prosecutors repeatedly objected to parts of his closing statement, and D.C. Superior Court Judge Gregory Jackson sustained nearly all of those objections, warning Gorbey that much of what he was saying was not appropriate for a closing statement.

But none of those admonitions seemed to affect Gorbey, who told jurors that much of the evidence they had seen was planted.

“They even filled my dog’s bowl with ammo,” he said, referring to the ammunition found in a dog’s bowl in his truck. “Does my dog have to go to jail for these shells being in his bowl?”

Gorbey claims that some of the weapons found on him on Jan. 18 were in his car, and that he was carrying a walking stick and a backpack full of legal documents instead.

As for the surveillance videos that show the Jan. 18 arrest, Gorbey said they “had almost no way of being true.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff — who presented her closing statement before Gorbey — focused more on the charge of attempting to manufacture a weapon of mass destruction. Gorbey is the first person to face that charge since the D.C. law was created in 2002.

Police didn’t find the device until a second search of the truck three weeks after Gorbey’s arrest. While some officers testified that the device couldn’t go off because it had no fuse system, Kerkhoff defined the law as the intent to manufacture such a device.

The construction of the device, she said — a tin can filled with explosive black power, with a glass bottle, shotgun shells and pellets all duct-taped to the outside of the can — makes it clear that Gorbey was trying to build a bomb.

“There was no ticker going and no fuse burning,” Kerkhoff said, but, she added, “the law doesn’t require that.

She said that Capitol Police Officer Jonathan Klipa immediately realized the potentially destructive intent of the device when he found it. “He didn’t need the words ‘Acme Bomb’ written on it to know what it was.”

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