With a prior record classifying him as an “armed career criminal,” Ed is serving a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for felon in possession of ammunition after seven shotgun shells – part of a neighbor’s belongings he was holding, without a weapon – were found in his home.
When Edward Young agreed to help his recently widowed neighbor sell some of her late husband’s effects, he had no idea that it would lead to a 15 year mandatory prison sentence.
His troubles started two decades earlier when, as a young man, he committed a series of small time burglaries and served some time in state prison. When he got out in 1996, he vowed to change his ways. And for over 15 years he did. Ed fell in love, got married and became a father.
Unfortunately, in 2011, the father of four made a mistake. He stole some weightlifting equipment and miscellaneous items from a warehouse and vehicles. He had his teenage son along with him during some of the incidents.
Then he made what would turn out to be a bigger mistake – agreeing to help his neighbor. Ed hauled boxes of the widow’s late husband’s belongings to his house to sort before taking the items to the flea market to sell. While sorting, he found seven shotgun shells in the boxes and put them away in a drawer so his kids wouldn’t find them.
When police showed up at his house to investigate the string of burglaries, they found the shotgun shells. Under federal law, Ed’s 20-year-old convictions barred him from possessing firearms or ammunition. His neighbor’s seven shotgun shells, stashed away in a drawer – even without a weapon to use them – counted.
Furthermore, Ed’s prior record meant that federal law considered him an “armed career criminal,” bringing along with the designation a 15-year mandatory prison sentence. It did not matter that, in his life, he had never used a gun to commit a crime, that the shotgun shells were useless to him, or that he did not know it was against federal law for him to possess the shotgun shells. Without any discretion, Ed’s judge was forced to give the 43-year-old father of four a 15-year prison sentence simply for possessing the seven shotgun shells.
Ed made mistakes, there’s no doubt about it, and he admits it himself. He likely would have served some time in state prison for the burglaries, but 15 years for seven shotgun shells and no gun is hardly a sentence that fits the crime – or the offender.
On Sept. 11, 2014, Edward Young lost his appeal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld his 15-year mandatory minimum. On January 22, 2015, Young filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review the lower court decision.
The Facts: Edward Young
Sentence: 15 years
Offense: Felon in possession of ammunition
Priors: Several burglary and related convictions (1989-1992); assault (1992 & 2005)
Year sentenced: 2013
Projected release date: May 31, 2025