A retired serviceman’s wife urged a federal judge to imprison him so he can get help after he was found with a gun and had tried to buy two more without disclosing an involuntary mental-health commitment.
Gautier resident Travis Coy Rayborn, 76, was sentenced to 21 months in prison Thursday and fined $5,000 for pulling out a .22-caliber revolver in Gautier on Aug. 29, 2015. The Air National Guard retiree, with more than 31 years of service, also had not acknowledged his commitment to a state mental hospital in Alabama on applications to buy firearms from two different licensed firearms dealers in South Mississippi, court documents show.
He tried to buy one firearm in Jackson County. He tried to buy a second one at the Keesler Air Force Base Main Exchange in Biloxi.
His money was refunded when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied his applications, said Sheila Wilbanks, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Rayborn had bought the gun he was found with in Gautier from Market Street Pawn and Gun in February 2015, Wilbanks said. The Pascagoula shop has gone out of business.
The criminal case raised concerns over gun ownership and confidentiality for mental-health patients and those who treat them.
U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden imposed the penalties and also ordered three years of probation.
In a letter to Ozerden, Rayborn’s wife said she wanted the judge to understand her husband’s mental state, and periods of physical abuse, before he made his ruling.
“I want him to receive help,” she wrote. “My desire is for his last years to be more peaceful and for those he comes in contact with to be safe.”
Federal law prohibits people committed to a mental-health hospital from buying a firearm.
Deputies arrived to help barricaded wife
A Baldwin County, Ala., judge had committed Rayborn to a mental health center in Alabama after his third arrest on a domestic assault charge in Bay Minette, Ala., in December 2014, court records show.
Rayborn had become abusive and had knocked the phone out of his wife’s hand and threatened to shoot her when she tried to call the sheriff’s office, his wife said in the letter. Her husband threatened to shoot anyone who came through the door, she said.
“When he left the room, I texted a girlfriend to call authorities,” the woman wrote. “He caught me, pulled a gun and I ran. I barricaded myself in my bedroom and called the sheriff. When the deputies arrived, they instructed me to jump out a window approximately 8 to 10 feet off the ground. I haven’t returned to him since.”
The woman, who now lives in Tennessee, said her husband has had a fascination with guns for years and a history of physical, drug and alcohol abuse.
From hospital to attempted gun purchase
The incident led to a month-long commitment to the Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center in Alabama, records show.
Rayborn was released from the hospital Jan. 8, 2015.
A month later, Feb. 28, 2015, Rayborn tried to buy a .22-caliber revolver from Discount Pawn in Vancleave. And the next month, on March 11, 2015, he tried to buy a 20-gauge shotgun at the Keesler Air Force Base Main Exchange. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied both applications.
Gautier police arrested him in August 2015 after he was found pointing a .22-caliber revolver and accused of public drunkenness, court records show.
A federal grand jury indicted Rayborn in March 2015 on charges related to the attempted gun purchase at Keesler in Biloxi.
A new indictment filed in October 2015 added charges related to the attempted gun purchase in Vancleave and the gun he was found with in Gautier.
Rayborn accepted a plea bargain April 15 on a charge involving unlawful possession of a firearm after a court-ordered mental-health hospitalization.
In preparation for trial in March, prosecutors had subpoenaed the mental-health center and the Alabama State Department of Health for Rayborn’s records. Both asked the subpoenas be thrown out. Ozerden denied those motions and decided to review the records privately in his office.