(CN) – An Arizona man who plotted to kill Super Bowl fans in 2008 but later changed his mind isn’t guilty of mailing threatening letters to media outlets because the letters were not addressed to a specific person, the 9th Circuit ruled.
Kurt Havelock planned to shoot fans as they walked into the stadium during the 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., He expected police would eventually shoot and kill him.
Before entering the stadium, Havelock mailed six “media packets” to the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Phoenix New Times, The Associated Press and two music-related websites, theshizz.org and azpunk.com.
The packets included a five-page “econo-political” manifesto entitled “Karma Leveller: Bad Thoughts on a Beautiful Day,” faux pipe bombs, an apologetic letter to “the Police,” directing them to his car and asking them “not take their hatred for him out on his dogs” and another letter full of self-described “random blatherings.”
Havelock’s Manifesto was a fractured meditation on the evils of American society and a paranoid, past tense account of the experiences, beliefs and convictions that had sparked the would-be “econo-political confrontation” at the Super Bowl, according to the ruling.
The packets also contained passages referring to Havelock’s planned massacre. “It will be swift and bloody. I will sacrifice your children upon the altar of your excess,” he wrote, along with, “I will slay your children. I will shed the blood of the innocent.”
Havelock changed his mind while sitting in his car at the Super Bowl. He instead called his parents and fiancé and turned himself in.
Havelock was convicted on six counts of mailing threatening communications and sentenced to a year in prison plus additional time on probation.
He appealed, arguing that his convictions and sentence should be overturned because the packets were addressed to corporations, not to specific people.
A 2-1 majority for the 9th Circuit agreed and ruled for acquittal on all six counts.
“Because none of the six packets of which Havelock was convicted of mailing was addressed on its cover to any natural person, his convictions cannot stand,” Judge William Canby, Jr., wrote for the San Francisco-based panel.
In her dissent, Judge Susan Graber argued, “It is unlikely that Congress intended to differentiate, for instance, between a death threat sent expressly and directly to a living person and one mailed to a corporation that employs that person. After all, both threats have exactly the same ill effect.”