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Politics, State/National

Two bullets cause trouble for Louisa County resident on cruise to Turks and Caicos Islands

9 mm gun and bullets
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Tyler Wenrich, 31, of Louisa County faced up to 12 years in prison in Turks and Caicos Islands for mistakenly bringing two bullets on a cruise.

CNN reported yesterday that Wenrich was sentenced Tuesday to time served, which was three weeks in jail, and a fine of $9,000. Wenrich plead guilty earlier in May to possession of ammunition while traveling to the West Indies islands.

“After advocacy from my office and across Congress, I’m glad to see Virginia resident Tyler Wenrich receive a lenient sentence for mistakenly bringing just two hunting bullets to Turks and Caicos while on a cruise. Tyler never sought to break the law, so I’m deeply relieved that the justice system chose fairness and leniency over a 12-year prison sentence. I’m thrilled he will be able to return home to Louisa County with his wife and one-year-old son, and I will continue advocating for the safe return of wrongly detained Americans across the world,” U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia said.

The Hon. Justice Davidson Baptiste cited exceptional circumstances in Wenrich’s case, according to CNN.

“Enforcing the mandatory minimum would have been arbitrary and disproportionate, and would not serve the public interest,” Baptiste said.

Wenrich is one of five Americans who was arrested in Turks and Caicos in recent months and accused of carrying different amounts of ammunition to the 40-island chain that is southeast of the Bahamas. Bringing firearms or ammunition to the island chain is forbidden according to its government.

Ryan Tyler Watson plead guilty Tuesday and is scheduled for sentencing on June 21.

Pennsylvania’s Bryan Hagerich plead guilty Friday and was sentenced to 52 weeks suspended and fined $6,700. He has returned to the U.S.

Michael Lee Evans also plead guilty to possession of ammunition while traveling in Turks and Caicos and was allowed to return to the U.S. for a medical situation. He must return to Turks and Caicos for a hearing.

Sharitta Shinese Grier was arrested last week and awaits trial after making bail.

Turks and Caicos Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam told CNN the firearms and ammunition restriction is intended to protect residents and tourists on the islands. No American resident has received the 12-year sentence yet.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.