Myrl Ray Ayer faced sentencing in the 11th Judicial Court last Wednesday.
Myrl Ray Ayer faced sentencing in the 11th Judicial Court last Wednesday.
Last summer, Myrl Ray Ayer, of Grass Valley, pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon, an AR-15. He also faced gross misdemeanor child abuse charges for allegedly firing the gun near a minor. 

“I visited the crime scene a couple of times – the second time with DDA Banks,” said defense attorney Kyle Swanson. “The victim claimed a second bullet hit the ground 20 feet from him and his son. Looking at the geography of the area, where they said it happened, it looked to me like it was physically impossible.”

According to Swanson, the scene was more consistent with his client’s version of events. Ayer said he fired a warning shot in the air to alert a trespasser on his land.

In Oct. 2019, Ayer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — discharging a weapon where a person might be in danger, a gross misdemeanor. In exchange, the DA’s office recommended probation. Ayer came to Pershing County’s 11th Judicial Court last Wednesday to hear Judge Jim Shirley’s decision.

 “We think Mr. Ayer is a good candidate for community supervision,” said the defense attorney before raising another issue.

“When my client was arrested, law enforcement searched his residence and confiscated all his firearms,” said Swanson. “They’ve still not been returned, and it’s been over six months. I request that they return them to my client. He stands convicted of a gross misdemeanor, not a felony, so legally he can still possess them.”

Judge Shirley observed that the standard terms and conditions of probation include a no-firearms clause. Lisa Brannon, on the phone representing the Division of Parole and Probation, verified his observation. 

“It’s for the supervising officer’s safety,” said the judge. 

“I’d like to see some evidence that those guns were going to be used against an officer of the State before they’re taken away from a person legally entitled to have them,” said Swanson.

The judge asked Brannon about the Division of Parole and Probation’s position.

“I’d have to refer that to the supervising officers,” she said. “I would like to get their opinions so they could give you a direct answer.”

Ayer exercised his right of allocution before the judge passed sentence.

“I wish I could get my guns back,” he said. Ayer explained that coyotes were bothering his livestock. “They say the AR-15 is a bump stock- I don’t think it is, but if it is, the stock could be removed.”

Judge Shirley gave Ayer 364 days in jail, suspended, with one year of supervision. He’s to have no contact with the alleged victim. 

The judge ordered the AR-15 returned to the defendant with the bump stock removed. It must not leave Ayer’s property. Ayer’s attorney can file a motion to waive the no-firearms clause in the standard terms and conditions of probation. The judge wants to hear from the Division of Parole and Probation.

Thomas John Bradley came to court for sentencing. He previously pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as an ex-felon. The State entered several exhibits into evidence to show the defendant had not been forthright with law enforcement.

Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Nicholson testified for the State. He was one of the primary law enforcement agents on Bradley’s case.  On the stand, Deputy Nicholson referred to photographs he took and uploaded into the case file. He also addressed images on Bradley’s Facebook page.

Steve Cochran cross-examined Nicholson and objected to the admissibility of some of the exhibits. 

“I don’t think the State has authenticated when this video occurred, where it occurred, what jurisdiction, or if it depicts anything even purported to be illegal,” he said. “Without those details, I don’t think it’s been authenticated.”

“It appears to be an unidentified person at an unidentified time in an unidentified location pumping a few rounds into the dirt,” he concluded about the Facebook video.

The judge consulted case law. He provisionally admitted the evidence but said he needed more time to study the matter. Bradley returns to court on Feb. 1.

Other cases:

Noel Wayne Moore came to court for a review hearing. His probation officer has a bed date for him at Ridge House. The judge set a hearing for Feb. 15. Moore will appear if he’s not in a program.

Brooklyn Rose, of Elko, was not present for her probation violation hearing. According to attorney Kyle Swanson, she forfeited her driver’s license due to a DUI. “So when she booked an Amtrak ticket to get to this hearing today, they would not let her on the train because she did not have an ID,” he said.

The judge continued the hearing until Feb. 17.

Attorneys John Routsis and Arnold Brock each represented out-of-state defendants charged with possessing controlled substances at Burning Man in 2019. The substances included psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA.

One of Routsis’s two clients tested positive for unspecified substances just before the hearing. At the judge’s request, he gave his car keys to the court clerk. He agreed to stay put until his test came back clean. The arraignment could not move forward and will be rescheduled.

The other defendants requested diversion, whereby they can withdraw their guilty pleas once they complete the Pershing County out-of-state drug court program.