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Jury reaches quick verdict in gun possession trial

Blair jurors take 10 minutes to convict Feathers

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County jury took about 10 minutes Friday to convict a 25-year-old Altoona woman of illegal gun possession for a gun found on the passenger side of the car she was driving.

Nakesha D. Feathers, who was prohibited from having a gun based on a 2017 robbery conviction, wiped away tears in the courtroom where the jury returned the guilty verdicts in a two-day trial.

Defense attorney Robert Donaldson reminded the jury that there were two people — Feathers and Damien Hild — in the vehicle state Trooper John Romeo Jr. stopped on July 26, 2020, at Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue, Altoona.

Donaldson pointed out that Hild, who also faces criminal charges in connection with the traffic stop, wasn’t called upon to testify. So he asked the jury to question the allegations against Feathers.

“There’s no reason to conclude my client possessed a firearm,” Donaldson said.

Assistant District Attorney Justin Shickman disagreed as he called upon responding police officers to testify about the traffic stop. Romeo also told the jury that when he interviewed Feathers at the police barracks, she admitted to buying the handgun for $300 from a woman in Altoona. Feathers told him that she and Hild had been shot at and that she wanted the gun for protection, according to trial testimony.

Police officers also told the jury that Feathers initially provided them with a fake name at the traffic stop. In his closing, Shickman asked the jurors to evaluate that action.

“Ask yourself why someone would use a fake name,” the prosecutor said.

To address Donaldson’s position that no one testified to seeing Feathers in possession of the handgun found inside a backpack on the passenger side where Hild was seated, Shickman said the jury could render a conviction based on constructive possession.

To define constructive possession, Shickman used the example of an ink pen he carried to the courtroom podium. If he left the pen at the prosecution’s table, Shickman said it would still be his pen.

Outside the presence of the jury, Feathers told Judge Jackie Bernard that in consultation with Donaldson, she decided against taking the stand in her own defense. She said she had thought “for quite a few days” about testifying.

Both Donaldson and Shickman said Feathers could be facing five years’ incarceration on the felony convictions for illegal gun possession and carrying a firearm without a license. Online records show that she has remained in the county prison since the traffic stop arrest.

Bernard announced a sentencing date of July 20, following completion of a presentence investigation.

Feathers also faces drug-related charges filed as a result of the traffic stop. The drug-related charges, separated from the gun charges, are scheduled for review in court on July 13.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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