On Friday, July 27, 2012 defendant Rick Reese took the witness stand.
As one can imagine, Rick has lost a lot of weight over the past year. So have the boys, Ryin and Remington. Terri Reese has been out on bail for several months and has been bringing them extra food during the trial, and often extra portions and lots of fresh fruit, homemade cupcakes, and their favorite snack foods. Terri explained that the meals in prison have not had much variety (lots of bologna sandwiches) and no fresh food.
Rick swore the testimony he was about to give was the whole truth and nothing but the truth, “so help you God”. (It sure was good to see God hadn’t been removed from this courtroom, as so often now that last phrase is dropped from swearing in.)
Rick, 56, was asked to tell the Jury about his life. He grew up in Yuma, AZ with his mother, Marj Stewart (whom he pointed out), until age 12, and then moved to Los Angeles. He went to work by age 17, and started a landscaping route. He received a scholarship college, moved out on his own and supported himself while going to college part-time. He has been self-supported since a young man. He explained tuition was very expensive and eventually he stopped going to school sometime in 1978 or 1970 and decided to work full-time. He eventually sold his landscaping route, and entered the car sales business. Eventually, he moved back to Yuma, AZ, as his brother had died under mysterious circumstances and he wanted to help law enforcement. He was hired at Nissan as a sales rep.
When his attorney asked him if he was married, he stated he is. When asked to identify his wife, Rick teared up pointed towards Terri, choked up and was unable to talk for a long emotional minute, eventually recovered and was able to utter her name. Rick explained he met his wife at a Wendy’s in March 1981 and they were married 90 days later. He was asked if he had any children, Rick was completely unable to talk as he was overwhelmed with emotion. Eventually he nodded his head in the affirmative. After allowing him some time to compose himself, Rick finally answered Ryin was born in 1987 and Remington in 1991 or 1992, explaining his wife assists him with dates he depends on her to be the family historian.
[This observer couldn't help but note not only is Rick on trial, but his entire family and his entire life is on trial.]
Eventually they moved to Deming. His parents owned a RV business in Deming. They lived in a 30′ 5th wheel trailer for many years on property his parents owned (adjacent to the current New Deal property). Rick started Deming Camper Center, which sold truck accessories and camper shells. Terri worked with him and did most of the sales work. He worked on the installations. They returned to Yuma in approximately 1983 and eventually he became the finance manager. They returned to Deming in 1985 to build a home. His mother and step-father Jack sold him 25 of their 75 acres. The moved their 5th wheel onto the property and over many years built the house. Later they purchased additional acreage.
Rick returned to school in 1993-94 and finished up his education at NMSU and graduated with honors in 1994.
Rick obtained his FFL originally in 1993. He liked firearms and felt he could save money purchasing weapons. Back then, a $30 fee to ATF accompanied the application form. Rick explained a few years ago the ATF made him surrender that FFL to change the name on the FFL to his personal name (instead of a LLC), and the fee escalated to $300. New Deal was opened approximately 18 years ago. He had applied for a job at the local high school, however, wasn’t hired. He supported the family by selling guns at gun shows on weekends. The initial capital to start up the company was his wife’s credit card.
Rick explained little by little they built the current New Deal store. First they needed a secure, cool, location for ammunition (as required by ATF). The jury was shown construction photos, showing how the first thing they did was bury an underground used diesel tank to store weapons and ammo in securely. An access hatch and interior stairway was constructed. Rick stated as part of the inspection process the ATF was aware of this storage area and the security measures. Rick related that during the inspections, ATF matches the A&D logs to the physical inventory, which from 1983 thru 1995 was stored securely in this underground storage area.
[In other words, folks, the ATF has known this is not a "bunker" or "tunnel" as described in earlier government testimony, and wasn't a secret to the ATF as they have known about this since the inception of New Deal.]
Rick explained he had security concerns when he built the underground storage area. His boys were very young, they were 30 miles from Old Mexico, in a rural setting, and far from the sheriff’s office in town. Alarm systems hooked up to the sheriff’s office were installed, flood lights, as well as fences surrounding the area. They did everything they could to comply with ATF regulations.
At first the above ground business was a small area. Over the years, he was able to build a steel building over the underground storage area, and later expand it even further. New Deal became the 3rd largest gun store in New Mexico in terms of volume of sales and floor space. One third of his business came from law enforcement.
Terri helped him more and more in the store as the business grew, but even that wasn’t enough help. In time they had other people help in an informal manner. Retired and off-duty law enforcement would help out, and he described how gun stores are like a candy store to some. The officers were happy to be able to hang out in the store.
He also built a safe shooting range, which was leased out to ICE. He explained that US Customs had a key to the property and could come and go as they wished, even after business hours. They started leasing the range some 5-7 years ago. He stated his range complied with ATF regulations, and could accommodate pistols and rifles, however, to be safe when shooting a 50 caliber gun they would travel 1.5 miles to the Florida mountain and shoot the 50 caliber gun pointed at the mountain.
Rick described how he tried to cater to law enforcement and gave them discounts on weapons and ammunition to draw them into the store and get repeat business.
Rick described how he initially advertised on the radio to get other clientele, however, over time realized he was getting diminishing returns. He switched over to getting shirt embroidered with his company name and phone number, and over the shirts this amounted to 1000s of shirts, many given away as a promotional item. Manufacturers also gave him shirts to give away when a customer purchased their item. Rick obtained other promotional items also. He described one of them as a challenge coin, which had his logo on it and a choice of phrases. In his case Rick chose the phrase “Armor of God” to be printed on his promotional coin.
[Is this the mysterious coin needed to open a gate that Roger Morris testified about?]
Rick was shown a photo of early construction of New Deal when they were pouring the foundation. Rick again got all choked up and was unable to speak. His two young boys were in the photo, and Rick finally called them his future crew. He recounted how Ryin went to public school, but Remington was removed from school and was homeschooled by himself and his grandmother, Marj Stewart. Rem completed high school in 1 1/4 years, and graduated years early compared to the education received in the public school system. Ryin graduated from college in Las Cruces.
Rick introduced both of the boys to weapons at an early age. Ryin is a NRA Certified Instructor and a lifetime NRA member. And Rem was close to obtaining his NRA Instructor certification. They have attended many training seminars, have trained with grand masters, as well as the Swat Team Leader in Las Cruces.
The kids have been helping in the store and some 35 annual gun shows since they were youngsters.
Rick described how the recent political changes affected his business. Gun and ammo sales skyrocketed, and Rick needed more help. Remington was already in the store full time and Ryin returned from school about 3 1/2 to 4 years to help. They were reliable and he never had to worry about them.
[continued in the next update]