Terroristic threats or simply a “sarcastic comment” made in bad taste on Facebook?
19-year-old Justin Carter, who was jailed in March for “terroristic threats” on Facebook, has reportedly been facing abuse while behind bars. According to his father, Jack, he has been getting beat up with some regularity.
Jack told NPR News‘ Morning Edition:
Without getting into the really nasty details, he’s had concussions, black eyes, moved four times from base for his own protection. He’s been put in solitary confinement, nude, for days on end because he’s depressed. All of this is extremely traumatic to this kid. This is a horrible experience.
Justin and a friend got into an argument with someone on Facebook about the game and the teenager wrote a comment he now regrets.
“Someone had said something to the effect of ‘Oh you’re insane, you’re crazy, you’re messed up in the head,’ to which he replied ‘Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk.,” said [Jack] Carter … [B]ut police didn’t think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.
Justin’s dad says the woman did a Google search and found his son’s old address was near an elementary school and she called police.
Justin was arrested shortly after, and in April he was indicted on a charge of “making a terroristic threat” by a grand jury in Comal County, Texas. The judge set his bail at $500,000 and because of the amount Justin’s family has been unable to bond him out.
Justin’s attorney, Don Flanary said, “I have been practicing law for 10 years, I’ve represented murderers, terrorists, rapists. Anything you can think of. I have never seen a bond at $500,000.” Jack Carter added, “These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made.”
Unfortunately for Justin, his comments were made only two short months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The charge he faces is a third-degree felony and carries up to a 10 year prison sentence. Lt. John Wells, of the New Braunfels Police department said:
The whole situation is kind of unfortunate. We definitely understand the situation that Mr. Carter is in, however he made the comments, and it is an offense. We have to … protect the general public and specifically, in this case, with it involving schoolchildren, we have to act. We take those very seriously.
Jack Carter however insists that his son really meant no harm, that he just “got caught up in the moment of the game and didn’t think about the implications,” and that the past 5 months of abuse do not “fit the crime.”
Justin’s attorney has managed to schedule a new hearing for July, 16, and plans to address the issue of the ongoing abuse and he will attempt to have the bail lowered so that Justin can return home while awaiting his trial.
Justin’s mother started a petition on Change.org which had over 81,000 signatures as of July, 6.