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Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Councilwoman acquitted of weapons charges

August 23, 2001

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— Merriam City Councilwoman Beth Snell and her boyfriend, William Wiswell, were acquitted Tuesday of selling illegal weapons from her martial arts store.

Snell, 57, represents Merriam's 1st Ward and is the owner of Ryukyu Martial Arts Co. She was charged with six counts of illegal use of a weapon and Wiswell, 55, who manages the store, faced two counts.

As the case was about to go to a jury Tuesday, Johnson County District Judge William Cleaver ruled that the two had not violated state weapons laws.

The charges were filed in April 2000 after undercover officers from the Johnson County Sheriff's Department bought several butterfly knives and throwing stars at Ryukyu.

Snell and Wiswell maintained that the items in question were only for display and were not real weapons.

Snell and Wiswell have said the prosecution was politically motivated, stemming from Snell's alliance with one faction of Merriam's divided council.

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