U.S. Asks to Destroy Guns Owned by Blogger in Prison for Threats to Judges
Federal prosecutors told a judge they want to destroy four firearms, including a Mossberg 12- gauge shotgun, owned by Hal Turner, the Internet radio host and blogger sentenced to 33 months in prison for threatening the lives of three U.S. appeals-court judges.
U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter Brooklyn, New York, ordered the weapons returned to someone of Turner’s “designation who is licensed to have them” when he imposed the sentence Dec. 21. Turner asked that they go to his mother.
In a court filing today, prosecutors asked Walter to reconsider his order, in part because e-mails show it appears Turner plans to pursue judicial and law-enforcement officials after he’s released from prison.
“The government requests permission to destroy the firearms, rather than turn them over to Turner’s mother, and to compensate Turner for their fair market value,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
Turner, 48, was convicted in August of threatening the judges because of their ruling upholding a gun ban. A jury found him guilty of a single count of threatening in Internet postings to assault and murder the three Chicago-based appeals judges. That was the only count he faced. Two previous trials ended in hung juries. Turner has appealed his conviction.
Turner told his mother in a Feb. 2 e-mail, written from prison, that “when I get out, I’m gonna go after some ‘problems’ and take care of them in a manner that will be horrific,” according to the filing. He made similar threats to his mother and an unidentified family member in other e-mails, prosecutors said.
In another Feb. 2 e-mail, Turner asked two unidentified family members to send him the personal information such as home addresses on “all the key members in my case,” including prosecutors and other judicial and law-enforcement officials, he had bought from an Internet site called Intelius, according to the court filing.
“Turner has expressed his plans for the future, some of which appear to be violent, in e-mails to his mother -- the very person whom Turner has designated to receive the firearms, and Turner has taken steps to receive personal information about the judicial and law-enforcement individuals involved in his case,” prosecutors wrote.
Lawyers from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office in Chicago prosecuted Turner, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane MacArthur and William Ridgway handling the trial. MacArthur signed today’s court filing.
Turner’s case was moved from Illinois to Brooklyn to ensure a fair trial. Two earlier trials in Brooklyn ended with hung juries in March 2010 and December 2009. Walter is a senior judge in federal court in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Prosecutors said Turner, of North Bergen, New Jersey, threatened judges Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer because of their June 2009 ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. A lower court previously dismissed a legal challenge to the ordinances by the National Rifle Association. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the handgun bans on June 28.
‘Tree of Liberty’
“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed,” Turner wrote in a Web posting. “Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions.” Turner also posted the judges’ names, photographs and work addresses, and a map of their courthouse.
Turner has already served about 13 months of his sentence, before and after being convicted.
The case is U.S. v. Turner, 09-cr-00650, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), and Turner’s appeal is U.S. v. Turner, 11-196, Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan).
To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in Brooklyn, New York, federal court at email@example.com.
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