On Feb. 20, deputies from the Independence County Sheriff’s Department were assisting a special agent for the US Marshall Service search for a wanted fugitive.
During that process, the agent went to the Batesville residence of Samuel Ethan Wilhite, 24, according to court documents. Wilhite told the agent the fugitive wasn’t there, but they could search if they would like.
During that search, authorities noticed two sawed-off shotguns in plain view that appeared to be illegal, due to the barrels being less than 18 inches in length.
Wilhite told the agent a Batesville Police Department officer measured the barrels and said the shotguns were legal.
The guns were taken by Chris Toland, an investigator for the Independence County Sheriff’s Department for measuring.
On Monday, Feb. 25, the measurements were made with one gun’s barrel measuring 12 and three-eighths inches in length. The other measured 17 and three-eighths inches which included a homemade barrel extension.
Toland said the guns were then declared illegal and placed in an evidence storage facility at the sheriff’s department.
Wilhite was then charged with two counts of criminal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and one count of possession of a defaced firearm. A warrant was issued, and a bond was set at $15,000.
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