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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mistrial for Man Accused of Threatening 3 Judges

(CN) - After Brooklyn jurors deadlocked, a federal judge declared a mistrial in the case of an Internet radio host accused of threatening to murder three federal appeals court judges.

Harold "Hal" Turner, 47, of New Jersey, was arrested on criminal charges for allegedly stating that the 7th Circuit judges "deserved to be killed" for dismissing a National Rifle Association challenge to a Chicago handgun ban.

Turner's outrage on his Turner Radio Network led FBI agents to discover incriminating blog posts on his Web page.

He allegedly posted the pictures, telephone numbers and work addresses of Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge Richard Posner and Judge William Bauer, stating that "their home addresses and maps will follow soon. Behold these devils."

The criminal complaint says Turner "threatened to assault and murder three United States judges with intent to retaliate against such judges on account of the performance of official duties."

His blog cited the murders of another judge's family in Chicago, and said that "the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn't get the hint after those killings ... it appears another lesson is needed," according to an FBI affidavit.

The FBI says Turner has a history of posting similar threats involving religion, the NAACP, sex, and the killing of Dr. George Tiller, who performed abortions. But the three-day trial did not showcase evidence of previous threats or testimony from the three judges, causing some jurors to infer prosecutors had backed off due to a lack of evidence.

The jury was split 9 to 3 for acquittal, one juror told The New York Times.

U.S. District Judge Donald Walter of Louisiana declared a mistrial Monday, and prosecutors said they would retry Turner. Walter slated the second trial to begin on March 1.

Turner faces up to 10 years of prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Walter had moved the case to Brooklyn so that Turner wouldn't be tried in the courthouse where the 7th Circuit judges work.

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