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Sanders pleads guilty to federal firearms charge

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 11:35 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 11:36 a.m. CDT

William “Billy” Leroy Sanders, 40, of Newton entered into a plea agreement Thursday on a federal charge of felon in possession of ammunition and is facing up to 15 years in prison.

As part of the agreement, Sanders will plead guilty to felon in possession of ammunition, and the court will dismiss the felon in possession of firearms portion of the original charge.

The agreement did not designate fines or costs of incarceration but stated Sanders understands the forfeiture of assets is part of the sentence that may be imposed in the case. The plea agreement did specify Sanders will be forced to forfeit the weapons and ammunition found in his home at the time of his arrest in December, including a Stevens 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, a H&R 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, a Marlin Model 40 .22 caliber long rifle, and a Springfield XD 9 mm pistol as well as ammunition for the guns.

Sentencing is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, in Des Moines.

Sanders was arrested Dec. 28, 2013, in Sully after his wife called her son and told him she was being held against her will and had been assaulted. Her son called 911, notifying Jasper County authorities of what he had been told and also informing them Sanders had firearms in the home. A deputy arrived at the scene and was approached by Sanders’ wife, who appeared to have extensive injuries, in the front yard. She was first taken to Pella Regional Health Center and later airlifted to Mercy Medical Center. While being transported to Pella, she stated Sanders had hit her in he face with the butt of a shotgun and that she thought she may have fractured ribs.

Sanders was taken into custody, and authorities found a number of 12-gauge shotgun shells in his pants and coat pockets. Law enforcement officials also found four loaded firearms in the home.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty interviewed Sanders’ wife two days later in her hospital room. During the interview, she stated Sanders had fired one of the weapons at her while she was sitting on the couch and that he also fired a crossbow at her. Halferty stated both weapons missed where she had been sitting by 12 inches or less. Sanders also forced her to drive him to a gas station at gunpoint to purchase cigarettes, according to Halferty.

In addition to the federal charge, Sanders faces a number of state charges relating to the December incident, including willful injury resulting in serious injury, a Class C felony; intimidation with a dangerous weapon, a Class C felony; and false imprisonment. A pretrial conference on those charges is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, and a trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 30.

Sanders was convicted of a controlled substance violation on Aug. 18, 1997, in Polk County; assault causing injury to peace officers/others on June 24, 2002, in Jasper County; and another controlled substance violation on Nov. 27, 2006, in Jasper County.

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