MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A jet-setting drifter arrested more than two years ago while carting a bizarre cache of guns and daggers around Lower Manhattan was convicted on more than a dozen weapons charges in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday.
James O'Donnell, 41, appeared in court briefly to hear the verdict after refusing to sit through the trial. The secretive ex-Army private was found guilty on 14 separate weapons charges stemming from the arsenal of knives, guns and ammunition he'd stowed in his suitcase on a cross-country trek from Seattle.
O'Donnell, a self-identified drifter, was armed to the teeth when he was arrested early on the morning of March 16, 2010 after officers spotted him fiddling with a lock on a construction site near St. Marks Place.
He told prosecutors he was passing through New York on his way back to Amsterdam, carting along eight daggers, three silencers, two handguns and nearly 300 bullets for his "personal protection."
"I’d like people to come to my aid," O'Donnell told prosecutors during a taped interview shown to jurors on Monday. "But that doesn’t really work."
Though he did not testify at trial, on the tape, O'Donnell was laconic but frank about his travels — from Tacoma to San Francisco and then to Boston by plane, from Boston to New York by bus — and about the cache of weapons, some of which he'd stashed in a Manhattan MiniStorage locker near City Hall. It was only after being questioned about the silencers that he asked for a lawyer.
"It's not a great surprise to me, but I have a deep sense of disappointment," defense attorney Howard Simmons said of the conviction. "Mr. O'Donnell is facing quite a few years in state prison."
O'Donnell is expected to appear in court again on May 24 for sentencing. He faces more than 15 years behind bars.