After entering Gourmet Pizza on Main Street with a loaded gun on May 13, 2017, 18-year-old Mikin J. Phillips was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Friday, Feb. 2.
County Judge Donald A. Williams delivered the sentence after a lengthy hearing in Ulster County Court to determine whether or not Phillips was a gang member. Williams was convinced that Phillips was a member of the Bloods street gang and Williams and that Phillips posed “a significant threat to the safety of this community,” and that he “had every intention” of using the loaded handgun.
Phillips was arrested around 3:15 a.m. after New Paltz officers on foot patrol were flagged down by two people who reported seeing a man with a gun in the local pizzeria. Officers said they saw “a bulge consistent with a firearm in [Phillips’] front pants pocket” and found a .38-caliber revolver in his possession. He was charged with a felony for being in possession of a weapon being a loaded and working firearm.
According to New Paltz Police Chief Joe Snyder, Phillips was not aggressive and did not point the gun at anyone. However, he does believe that, in this particular case, the gun was stolen from another jurisdiction.
“For our community, I would say one time with someone illegally possessing a handgun is too many,” he said. “It does happen not too frequently, but officers do come across this.”
Phillips was 17 when he was arrested and the Ulster County District Attorney suggested a five-year sentencing and Bryan Rounds, Phillips’ defense attorney, asked the judge to show his client leniency and that sentencing him to a long prison term would only hinder his ability to lead a productive life following his release, according to The Daily Freeman.
Rounds also denied that his client had any gang affiliation. He argued that the only connection Phillips had to gang activity was that he was related to some gang members and that he grew up with individuals who are now part of a gang.
Additionally, there are photographs circulating on social media of Phillips brandishing a gun, in one of which he is with another person and the corresponding caption reads, “Gang, gang, gang, gang activity.” Rounds called the photos “stupid” and said that Phillips was not threatening toward anyone.
Phillips remained silent at the sentencing, but was led out of the courtroom in tears. His mother, seated in the courtroom gallery, apologized to her son as he was being led away, saying “I’m sorry they have to make an example out of you.” She stormed out of the courtroom, and declared that she would first one to vote [Williams] out of office,” according to The Daily Freeman.