Judge orders private review of Gautier man's mental health records


GULFPORT -- A federal judge has ordered an Alabama psychiatric center to deliver copies of a Gautier man's records for a private review before his trial on firearm charges.

At issue are privacy laws and whether Travis Coy Rayborn was aware he had previously been committed to a mental hospital when he allegedly made false statements in attempts to buy firearms at the Keesler Air Force Base Main Exchange in Biloxi and Discount Pawn in Vancleave.

Rayborn, 75 and a retired veteran, faces trial May 23 on a five-count indictment.

Federal law prohibits people committed to a mental hospital from buying a firearm. Federal law also offers strict protection when it comes to the privacy of medical records.

Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker has signed an order requiring the Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to deliver Rayborn's records by April 6 for a private review by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden.

It's unclear if the government will be provided the records or if a motion to throw out the subpoena will be granted, Walker wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shundral H. Cole had subpoenaed the records after Rayborn was scheduled to plead guilty Feb. 23 but changed his mind.

Rayborn indicated he wasn't aware he had been committed to a mental institution, documents show. He also has declined to give permission for prosecutors to obtain his records.

"The defendant cannot maintain that he was unaware of the fact that he had been involuntarily committed to an institution and at the same time invoke privacy rights to prohibit the government from analyzing relevant medical records which tend to show knowledge," Cole wrote in a court filing.

Alabama Assistant State Attorney General David Huddleston had filed a motion asking the subpoena be thrown out, citing privacy laws and doctor-patient confidentiality.

Walker's order, dated March 23, said, "The Supreme Court has recognized a privilege protecting communications between a psychotherapist and his or her client." However, Walker wrote, the "right to privacy over medical records was not intended to be a means for evading prosecution in criminal proceedings."

An indictment filed Oct. 6, 2015, accused Rayborn of making false statements to buy a 20-gauge shotgun from the Keesler Main Exchange on March 11, 2015.

An new indictment filed March 10 alleges Rayborn also tried to buy a .22-caliber revolver from Discount Pawn in Vancleave on Feb. 28, 2015, and was in possession of a .22-caliber revolver Aug. 29, 2015, in Gautier. That's when Gautier police arrested him on charges of public drunkenness and exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner.

Federal court records show prosecutors have obtained audio recordings of Rayborn's commitment to a mental institution Dec. 9, 2014, before a Baldwin County, Ala., probate judge. Rayborn had been arrested the day before on a charge of domestic violence third degree.

The Alabama judge heard testimony that Rayborn had a history of domestic violence, was dangerous and owned multiple weapons. a document said.

Firearm applications include a question asking if the intended purchaser has ever been committed to a mental institution. Rayborn checked "no" in both attempted purchases, the indictment said.

He faces trial on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts each of making false statements on a federal gun application and making false statements to licensed firearms dealer.