By DAVID K. LI
Last Updated: 7:04 PM, February 24, 2011
Posted: 11:41 AM, February 24, 2011
Jurors today shot down the DA’s hunt for a Florida man, and acquitted him on a felony rap for coming into New York packing heat.
After a mere 30 minutes of deliberations, the foreman said “not guilt,’’ as Jonathan Ryan‘s knees buckled and he broke down in tears, hugging defense lawyer Mark Bederow.
The 29-year-old had been indicted for criminal weapons possession and he admittedly motored into Manhattan on Feb. 21, 2010, with a 9mm pistol stored in his truck’s glove compartment.
A magazine with seven bullets to the Skyy CPX-1 was separated and in another end of the glove box, but that counted as a loaded weapon, under New York’s tough anti-gun laws.
Ryan insisted he forgot the gun was in his glove box.
“I knew I was innocent and that I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said outside court, with joyous family members and friends, hugging and crying all around him.
“I believe in the people that God surrounded me with.”
The suspect could have faced 3 ½ years in prison had jurors convicted him for his ill-fated journey into Gotham.
The acquitted Florida landscaper was in town to help pack up and move his gal pal Ashely Shewey, then a page for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
His mad-cap, all-day, all-night journey began early in the morning in Lake City, Fla., with plans to come up the New Jersey Turnpike, cross into Staten Island and Brooklyn before reaching Shewey’s apartment in Sunnyside, Queens.
But the lifelong, small-town Florida man got lost and crossed into Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel. Then his final mistake was turning right on a red light at East 65th Street, into southbound Park Avenue at 11:55 p.m., drawing the attention of cops, who found the gun.
Ryan said he hopes to visit the Big Apple again.
“I’m not bitter, it’s all good. No bitterness. I have no bitterness at all,” he said. “New York is a great city. I look forward to visiting under better circumstances.”
Ryan purchased the weapon legally in October 2007 in Florida and kept it in his glove box. While testifying in his own defense, Ryan said he wanted the heat for “protection” and mentioned he was worried about a former employee coming after him.
The plain-speaking, earnest Ryan insisted he was just in town to help his girlfriend — and was not up to any criminal activity.
DA Cy Vance was unapologetic about his office’s failed prosecution.
“Guns brought illegally into New York City – for any reason – violate well-established state law and are a threat to our public safety,’’ he said.
“We respect the jury’s verdict in this case, of course, and thank them for their service. But we will continue to protect our community from those who illegally possess loaded guns in Manhattan. Any possession of a loaded firearm in this metropolitan area has the potential for deadly consequences, to our residents and visitors alike.”
Ryan thanked his family and friends for coming to court from Florida to back him.
“I am so relieved. I feel humbled and blessed,” he said.
“When you realize you’re on the brink of losing all the little things that are typically taken for granted, you suddenly realize they’re not so little — that’s what humbles you.”
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