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SOUTH GATE : Ex-Teacher Convicted of Gun Possession

July 03, 1994|BOB ELSTON

A former kindergarten teacher at Montara Street Elementary School was convicted last week of possession of a handgun on campus and making terrorist threats to teachers who turned him in.

After a four-day trial in Norwalk Superior Court, the jury took just 80 minutes Monday to reach guilty verdicts on four felony counts against Raymond Jett Jr., 36, who was arrested Feb. 24 for having a handgun under the driver's seat of his car in the school's faculty parking lot.

He posted bail and was rearrested a day later for allegedly threatening to "end the careers" of several teachers at the school who he suspected of turning him in.

"This is a bizarre case," said Marc Merrick, the deputy district attorney who argued the case. "And a serious crime."

Merrick said that Jett "admitted having the gun on campus and admitted being on bail while he made the phone (threat)."

Jett testified that he routinely carried a loaded gun when he was going to the bank, Merrick said, and that the 18 other weapons seized at his house after the February arrest were simply evidence of his hobby as a gun collector and a Civil War buff.

Merrick said that Jett has a permit for the gun found in his car and authorities are trying to locate permits for the weapons found at his house.

Jett's attorney, Robert McDaniel, said he will decide whether to appeal the case after a sentencing hearing July 18. Jett faces up to 10 years in prison.

"I am really unhappy with the jury verdict in this case," McDaniel said.

McDaniel argued during the trial that the faculty parking lot is next to the school, not on campus, where it is illegal to have a firearm. He also said Jett denied making serious threats to teachers.

Jett was a kindergarten teacher at the school since last summer and for seven years before that he was a substitute teacher.

After his arrests, a group of parents stuck by him, saying he was a fine teacher.

The Los Angeles Unified School District on June 20 officially terminated Jett, who had been on unpaid leave since his arrests, said Walt Green, director of employee relations at the district.

Attorneys for both sides said Jett will undergo diagnostic testing at the state prison facility in Chino to evaluate whether he is fit to be imprisoned among the general prison population.

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