Message to Raleigh mayor wasn't a threat, attorney says
Posted May 6, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A man facing a federal charge for allegedly threatening Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has asked a judge to drop the case.
Alec Dane Redner's attorney, John Wiles, filed the motion to dismiss Monday, saying that prosecuting Redner violates his First Amendment protection of political speech because his statement to the mayor was not a "true threat" of violence.
Redner was indicted March 17 on a charge of communicating a threat against an individual for allegedly sending McFarlane a message through her website. According to police, Redner told her to "watch out" and that she would soon be "on the other end of the barrel."
But Wiles argues in the motion that Redner was warning McFarlane that if she continued "'mak[ing] a joke of the U.S. Constitution,' she 'soon …will' make such jokes 'at the other end of a barrel,' and that she should 'watch out.'"
"Nowhere does the communication say or suggest that its sender personally stands behind the
communication as a, much less as the, potential future actor to cause the recipient to be on the
'other end of the barrel,'" according to the motion. "It does not express the sender's serious expression of intent to do harm to Mayor McFarlane. It does not even express a serious desire that someone else do harm to Mayor McFarlane."
The filing cites a 1966 case having to do with a statement a man made about shooting then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the man's conviction after finding that the statement was political hyperbole and was not "communicating a serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful violence."
After Redner's federal indictment, Wake County prosecutors dropped state charges of communicating threats and threatening an executive, legal or court officer.
Also dropped was an obstruction of justice charge stemming from allegations that the 27-year-old sent his mother a letter from jail instructing her to destroy a laptop that he said he hid in her home.