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Soldier to appeal conviction in gun rights trial

March 12, 2013: An AR-15 style assault weapon is displayed at the 7th annual Border Security Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.Reuters

An Army soldier convicted in November of a misdemeanor count of interfering with the duties of a police officer for carrying an assault rifle while hiking with his teenage son plans to appeal the decision.

The Army Times, citing the Temple Daily Telegram, reports an attorney for U.S. Army Master Sgt. Christopher Grisham has filed a notice of his intent to appeal in a case that has attracted the interest of gun advocates nationwide.

The attorney, Blue Rannefeld, reportedly asserted in the motion that the prosecution's claims were not supported by the evidence.

KWTX-TV News reports jurors convicted Grisham – a soldier stationed at Ford Hood in Texas – on Nov. 20 of the class-B crime, which carries a fine not to exceed $2,000 and a jail sentence of not more than 180 days.

Grisham was arrested while hiking with his 15-year-old son, who was working on the requirements for a Boy Scout badge.

Grisham was carrying an AR-15 rifle and a concealed handgun, for which he had a permit. Texas law allows for rifles to be carried in public.

Someone reportedly called police expressing alarm over a man carrying a rifle along a road. Officer Steve Ermis responded and, according to court testimony, was initially concerned because he didn't know Grisham's intentions.

Rannefeld argued at trial that Grisham was carrying the rifle to protect against aggressive wild hogs. He reportedly said Ermis "went above and beyond to control and intimidate," when he stopped the two.

Court documents say Grisham tried to prevent Ermis from taking his rifle and later resisted as the officer attempted to place Grisham's hands behind his back. Prosecutor John Gantt Jr. told jurors that Grisham refused to follow Ermis' orders.

Grisham's son used his cellphone to record the confrontation.