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Domestic abusers face risk of federal charges on firearms

Marking Domestic Violence Awareness month, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge advises that domestic abusers are finding that their abusive conduct can have federal consequences.

“Cases come to our attention due to domestic violence quite frequently,” he said. “And, whether the case involves drugs, guns or anything else, the defendants with domestic abuse in their criminal record face significant penalties.”

Birge, who serves the Western District of Michigan, described several recent prosecutions, noting, “These are neither the first nor will they be the last firearm cases that have come to our attention through a domestic violence investigation or where we’ll be citing that history in looking to have the offender locked up for a long time.”

Those who are currently victims of domestic violence need to know that keeping guns from domestic abusers legally prohibited from possessing them is a national Department of Justice priority.

Federal law has long barred convicted felons, as well as individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders or convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, from possessing firearms.

“Those who engage in or have a history of domestic violence should consider themselves warned,” Birge said.

Donnell Davenport was a serial domestic violence offender. He pleaded guilty to a federal felon in possession of a firearm charge and is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 9. When Davenport’s girlfriend told him that she wanted to break up, he told her that if he couldn’t have her, no one would. Fearful, she fled to a neighbor’s house and called the police. Officers drove to the house, and Davenport sped away through the residential neighborhood at speeds reaching 70 mph. When police finally PIT-maneuvered his car, Davenport tossed a handgun from his window as the vehicle spun to a stop. Davenport now faces up to 10 years in a federal prison.

Craig David Overla, 34, most recently of Ludington, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 10 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for being a felon in possession of firearms and for possessing stolen firearms. In March 2019, police discovered the firearms that formed the basis of his federal charges while investigating severe injuries inflicted on his 2-month-old son. Police subsequently learned that shortly before the baby suffered severe injuries, Overla had threatened to kill his then-girlfriend and the 2-month-old baby. The baby died after being in the hospital for approximately one month. Overla has not been charged with an offense arising out of the baby’s death.

Brandon Kelly likewise had a long list of criminal convictions, including two domestic violence convictions when he was caught in possession of a .38 caliber revolver. Kelly was recently sentenced to 60 months in a federal prison on the gun charge after the district court noted his history of violence and assaultive behavior.

Donte Darnell Blue also has an extensive criminal history that includes domestic violence. He was charged in federal court with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Blue could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison on the drug charge and will have to serve at least five years consecutive to that on the gun charge. Blue pled guilty on Tuesday; a sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

If you are or if someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence lists resources for victims and domestic violence shelter information at 517-347-7000 or go to http://www.mcedsv.org/.

For information on Caring House in Iron Mountain, call 906-774-112.

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