Federal Judge Convicts Mason County Man of Carjacking and Firearms Offense
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Mason County man who threatened two employees of the Putnam Public Service District with a machinegun and stole their company truck last year in Teays Valley was convicted today after a one-day bench trial of multiple federal offenses. Justin Michael Wilson, 20, was convicted of carjacking and using, carrying, and brandishing a machinegun during and in relation to a crime of violence. Wilson also previously pled guilty prior to trial to unlawful possession of a machinegun and possession of an unregistered machinegun. Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and multiple agencies who responded to the crimes including the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Hurricane Police Department, and the West Virginia State Police.
“There’s no place for carjackers in West Virginia. That’s why Wilson is facing a mandatory 30 years in prison with no parole in the federal system,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Wilson’s violent, criminal acts put many lives in danger. I want to thank the law enforcement officers who acted heroically to bring Wilson into custody and Assistant United States Attorneys Joe Adams and Stephanie Taylor for their excellent work in this case.”
On January 11, 2018, Wilson drove a vehicle he had stolen earlier in the day in Jackson County to the Liberty Square Shopping Plaza in Teays Valley. While in route to the shopping plaza, Wilson acquired a machinegun and engaged deputies in Kanawha County in a chase, eventually driving off-road and jumping his vehicle over railroad tracks to get away. When he arrived at the shopping plaza, Wilson approached two employees of the Putnam Public Service District eating lunch in their company truck. Wilson brandished the machinegun, demanded the men transfer items from the stolen vehicle to the PSD truck, and stole the truck.
A West Virginia State Police Trooper and Deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responding to calls at the shopping plaza for assistance immediately saw Wilson fleeing in the truck. Wilson then entered Interstate 64 headed westbound and led the responding units on another high speed chase. During the pursuit, Wilson pointed the machinegun out of the truck at the Trooper, ran vehicles off the road, crossed the median at a designated emergency vehicle crossing, traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes, exited the interstate by traveling the wrong way up the entrance ramp at Hurricane, and eventually crashed the truck which was destroyed by fire. Wilson was pulled from the burning truck by the Trooper and placed under arrest.
Wilson will be sentenced on August 12, 2019, and faces sentences of up to 15 years in federal prison for the carjacking conviction and up to 10 years in federal prison each for illegally possessing a machinegun and possessing an unregistered machinegun. Wilson also faces a mandatory 30 year sentence for using, carrying, and brandishing a machinegun during and in relation to the carjacking.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph F. Adams and Stephanie S. Taylor handled the prosecution. United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the trial.
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