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Man pleads guilty

Front Royal man possessed gun after mental commitment

By Joe Beck

A Front Royal man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court to two counts of possessing a gun after an involuntary commitment as a mental patient.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp imposed no fine or jail term on Andrew Charles Studds, except for time he had already served in the jail for a few weeks in May following his arrest.

The charges stemmed from incidents in which police noticed Studds, 26, videotaping them while they were conducting traffic stops. The police also noticed he was carrying a holstered handgun on his right hip as he taped them.

A criminal complaint signed by officer Kevin Nicewarner states that he investigated Studds and found records showing he was "mentally evaluated at Northwestern Community Services in Front Royal and subsequently accepted voluntary treatment at a mental health facility in Petersburg, Va. Mr. (Studds) was subsequently admitted to the same mental health facility in Petersburg, Va."

Nicewarner's complaint states that Studds, who had previously received a permit to carry a handgun, never had it reinstated.

Studds's attorney, Eric D. Wiseley of Front Royal, argued at a previous court hearing that his client had committed no crimes while videotaping the officers. Wiseley said the prosecution lacked proper documentation proving that Studds had been involuntarily committed.

Wiseley cited confusion over Studds's name, which was misspelled as Stubbs in some documents, as one reason why the prosecution could not prove its case.

Failure to produce proper documentation meant that Studds could carry a handgun and was exercising his constitutional rights in videotaping the officers while carrying a handgun, Wiseley said.

Studds has filed a petition in Warren County General District Court to regain his right to carry a firearm. A hearing is scheduled for July 16.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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