Hal Turner Acquitted in Blogging Threat Trial
Hal Turner also used to have a site on the internet and a streaming radio show where he would spew his bile. Indeed, right wing bloggers have picked up stories and outrages of the day from him in the past. (Notably that China was going to take our houses due to emminent domain early in President Obama’s current turn. This claim was echoed by several RW bloggers, including Pam Geller.)
Hal Turner, an outspoken racist radio talk show host and blogger who became an FBI informant, has been acquitted by a Connecticut jury of threatening and inciting violence against three state officials in his online blog.
The 49-year-old white supremacist comments were “outrageous” and “distasteful,” but the prosecution failed to prove Turner had engaged in criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt, jurors said after the verdict.
Before the defense phase of the jury trial, Hartford Superior Court Judge Carl J. Schuman ruled that Turner couldn’t mount a First Amendment defense but, in delivering his own closing arguments, the defendant suggested to the jury that his comments were protected by free speech.
In 2009, Turner expressed outrage at proposed legislation introduced in the Connecticut Legislature to give lay members more say in the financial matters of the Roman Catholic Church. In a blog webcast, Turner threatened to give out the home address of two state lawmakers, Michael Lawlor and Andrew McDonald, and Thomas K. Jones, an official with the state ethics office.
Turner called on Catholics to “take up arms and put down this tyranny by force. These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die,” he said. “If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this, I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too.”
Turner was arrested by state authorities before he could carry out his threat to publicly divulge the address of the state officials. A resident of North Bergen, N.J., he was charged with inciting injury, a felony, and a companion misdemeanor charge of threatening. He could have been sentenced to up to 11 years in prison if convicted.
While the state charges were pending, Turner was arrested by federal authorities on charges of making other comments threatening federal judges two years after the FBI severed its relationship with its one-time informant.
During the course of two federal mistrials in 2009 and 2010, it was disclosed that Turner had worked as an FBI informant for several years, infiltrating various extremist groups, including the Aryan Nations and the National Alliance.
After a third federal trial in August 2010, Turner was convicted of threatening federal judges and sentenced to 33 months in prison. He is scheduled to be released in October 2012, but under terms of supervised release he will be barred from participating in Internet or satellite radio programming for three years.