A Grandview man was sentenced Wednesday to 16½ years in federal prison for three firearms charges, including possession of a weapon in connection with drug trafficking.
Charles Thomas Wilmer Weems pleaded guilty in October in U.S. District Court in Yakima to possession of an unregistered firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The case stemmed from a traffic stop near Sunnyside on March 1, 2007.
According to court documents, two Sunnyside officers were heading west on Interstate 82 when a Ford F-150 pickup abruptly cut in front of them, then crossed the outside fog line twice.
Suspecting the driver was drunk or on drugs, the officers activated the overhead emergency lights of their patrol car.
The pickup did not immediately pull over, however. Instead, it took the next freeway exit and eventually stopped in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant.
The officers said the driver, later identified as Weems, quickly got out of the truck and locked the door, refusing to re-enter the truck and be seated because the driver’s door lock was broken.
After using Weems’ keys to get in on the passenger side, the officers found a large, though unspecified, quantity of marijuana in the truck, an unspecified amount of cocaine, a digital scale, and a British-made 9mm Sten submachine GUN with two magazines, one containing 30 rounds and the other with 36 rounds. The gun was later tested and found to be fully automatic.
Weems did not have a federal firearm license required to possess either a machine gun or a short-barreled gun, as the Sten is classified.
What he did have was a serious criminal history stemming from a 1998 conviction in Benton County for first-degree robbery.
Resolution of the case had been delayed for years due to a 2009 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that limits warrantless searches such as the one of Weems’ truck.
It was revived in 2011, however, after the Supreme Court clarified in a new ruling that evidence seized in good faith by police prior to the 2009 ruling was admissible.
• Information from Yakima Herald-Republic archives is included in this report.