Federal Jury Finds Roswell Felon Guilty of Illegally Possessing Firearms and Ammunition
Defendant Prosecuted under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., returned a verdict yesterday evening finding Michael Dalton, 34, of Roswell, N.M., guilty of unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition after a three-day trial. The verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 5th Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Phil Smith of the Roswell Police Department (RPD).
Dalton, who has seven prior felony convictions, is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
Dalton was arrested on a federal criminal complaint in June 2016, after he was transferred to federal custody from state custody where he was detained on related state charges. The state charges subsequently were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
The complaint charged Dalton with illegally possessing firearms and ammunition on Aug. 28, 2015, in Chaves County, N.M. Dalton was indicted on the same charge on June 30, 2016. The indictment was superseded on Oct. 25, 2016, to add a second offense charging Dalton with being a drug addict unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition on Aug. 28, 2015, in Chaves County. According to court documents, Dalton was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he had prior felony convictions for burglary, breaking and entering, forgery, aggravated fleeing from a law enforcement officer, possessing burglary tools, tampering with evidence, larceny, and possession of a controlled substance.
Dalton’s trial on the two-count superseding indictment began Jan. 23, 2017 and concluded yesterday evening when the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts. The evidence at trial established that on Aug. 28, 2015, officers of the Roswell Police Department responded to Dalton’s residence after receiving a call from Dalton’s neighbor. The neighbor reported hearing Dalton threaten to shoot his girlfriend in the head during a fight between the couple that occurred outside Dalton’s residence. The neighbor also reported witnessing Dalton attempt to run over his girlfriend with his car before going into his residence with his three-year-old child. The neighbor then heard gunshots coming from Dalton’s residence.
Dalton barricaded himself in his residence, requiring a SWAT team to be dispatched to coax Dalton out of the residence. After an hour-long standoff, came out of the residence and he was identified as a convicted felon, leading the officers to obtain a search warrant for his residence. While executing the search warrant, the officers seized two rifles, a handgun and approximately 240 rounds of ammunition from ’s residence.
The evidence at trial also established that in addition to being a convicted felon, Dalton was a methamphetamine addict.
The jury deliberated approximately two hours before returning a guilty verdict.
Dalton has been in federal custody since his arrest in June 2016, and will remain detained pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Dalton faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison on each of the two offenses.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the ATF and the Roswell Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander B. Shapiro and Marisa A. Ong of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.