AUSTIN, Texas—”All right, Cody Wilson,” Judge Brad Urrutia began as he called Wilson and his attorneys, F. Andino Reynal and Joseph Turner, to the front of Travis County’s 450th Criminal District Court.
And with that brief act, Wilson’s literal globe-spanning legal drama was over. The founder and former CEO of 3D-printed firearms tech company Defense Distributed had been formally sentenced.
After his arrest on charges of sexual assault against a minor in September 2018, Wilson had made a plea deal with the state ahead of his initial court appearance last month. Now it was official: Wilson will serve seven years of deferred adjudication probation and register as a sex offender. He’ll pay a $1,200 fine and $4,840 in restitution to the victim. He must complete 475 hours of community service and continue to attend sex offender therapy. And during this probation period, his keystrokes will be monitored, he will not be allowed to possess firearms, he cannot drink alcohol or use narcotics, and he must inform the court if he has children during that time. (His former company, Defense Distributed and the associated Ghost Gunner, Inc., had formally cut ties long ago.)
But Wilson will not spend a single day in prison. The initial charges against Wilson had all been second-degree felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
The formerly boisterous firearms activist said nothing beyond “Yes, your honor” throughout the entire sentencing process, staying stoic in his gray suit as a dozen or so cameras watched his every reaction. As he and his legal team left the courtroom and headed for the elevator, they gave the press their only, brief reaction.
“It was a fair resolution for everyone,” Turner said plainly, cameras continuing to shoot until the moment Wilson hit the elevator.
“Daily life was shattered”
Wilson’s initial court appearance was the first time the public learned that his legal team had worked with the state on a plea deal involving lesser charges. According to the original plea document (PDF), “injury to a child” is only a third-degree felony compared to the second-degree allegations Wilson had faced. Travis County District Attorney Joe Frederick told Ars at the time that “this plea agreement was made after consulting with the victim and her family.”
Frederick elaborated to the Associated Press, saying the state had months of extensive meetings with the victim and her parents. “After several months of going through the case and talking with them about what they desired and what they wished, we felt that this was a satisfactory conclusion to the case,” he told the AP.
Today, court attendees heard directly from the victim’s family. After Wilson accepted his sentence, a statement from the victim’s mother was read out loud for all to hear.
“This is an impossible task. Somehow I am supposed to make a statement that fully explains your actions, but my truth is over a year ago, I always hold in my hand, the minute you paid my daughter for what you did to her…
“The investigation period was terrifying. Reading who you are and what you believe in created a very real and reasonable fear for our family and everyone in it. So I would take pictures of her every time she left my car in the months leading up to the case just in case I had to ID what she was last wearing…
“Our daily life was shattered, but she never wavered from the truth. Once she told you who you are and what you did, she never wavered. She remembers the gun you put in her hands and the feeling of your skin. But you ran, despite the publicity you have always been seeking from your fans and followers, you ran. You hid in a foreign airport and only came back because you were made to. She stood up in a public forum despite talk of conspiracies and setups…
“I pray that you will not be killed, especially that you will not be killed by a gun… The truth is you are now hiding behind the laws of the country you mocked for years. But the biggest truth is my daughter is strong, vibrant, and has a beautiful future. And I speak this truth in front of you because that’s the most important truth in all of this.”
Throughout the entirety of this case, Wilson’s attorneys have maintained that their client did not know the victim was underage. Wilson had found her through an online call-girl site, SugarDaddyMeet.com, that requires users to be 18 years old (Ars found the site does little in terms of verification). But when announcing their arrest warrant in September 2018, Austin Police had initially said it’d be hard to mistake the victim as an adult. “My detectives have interviewed and spoken with this victim,” APD Cmdr. Troy Officer said during a press conference. “In their opinion if someone mistakes their age, it’d be because she’s younger not older.”
Listing image by Nathan Mattise