A federal firearms charge was dismissed Wednesday against a Garfield County man who has a history of mental health problems and was arrested after acting “very strange” at a high school about a month after a mass shooting occurred at a Connecticut elementary school.
Justin Wayne Prentice, who was charged with being a mentally defective person in possession of a firearm, will be enrolled in a supervised probation program. The charge could be refiled if Prentice violates any terms of his probation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Travis Smith told U.S. District Judge David Russell.
Prentice will be in the supervised program for 18 months. If convicted of the charge, he faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
A federal grand jury in Oklahoma City indicted Prentice in May. Prentice was ordered by a judge in December 2011 to be admitted to a mental health facility as a mentally ill person, according to court papers filed in the case.
During a brief hearing Wednesday, Russell reviewed a psychological evaluation report on Prentice and ruled he was competent to go to trial. Smith then announced that Prentice was recommended for the government's pretrial diversion program.
“It beats going to trial doesn't it?” Russell asked Prentice.
Prentice agreed, but seemed hesitant when Russell asked him if he was aware that he is prohibited from having any weapons.
“I hope this works out for you,” Russell said.
“I hope so too,” Prentice said.