Justices to Assess Intent Behind Facebook Threats
WASHINGTON (CN) - The conviction of a man who made threatening posts on Facebook while experiencing trouble at home and work will go before the Supreme Court, the justices said Monday.
Anthony Elonis was convicted in Pennsylvania under Section 875(c) of Title 18, which criminalizes the transmission "in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another."
In affirming that conviction last year, the 3rd Circuit found that the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Virginia v. Black does not require a showing that Elonis "subjectively" intended for his Facebook posts to be threatening.
Elonis was arrested in late 2010 after a downward spiral of several months during which his wife left him and took the kids, and he lost his job at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.
Among threatening Facebook posts that Elonis had made with regard to his work was one in which he wrote the caption "I wish" for a picture Halloween-themed picture where he held a knife to the neck of a co-worker.
He later wrote, "Ya'll think it's too dark and foggy to secure your facility from a man as mad as me."
The various posts that Elonis made about wanting to kill his wife also led her to receive a protection of abuse order against him.
He went on to boast that he has "enough explosives to take care of the state police and the sheriff's department."
An FBI agent went to the man's door soon after he posted: "I'm checking out and making a name for myself / Enough elementary schools in a ten mile radius to initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined / And hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a kindergarten class / The only question is . . . which one?"
He reacted online to that visit by threatening to slit that agent's throat and detonate a bomb.