Facebook Comments Could Land Teen in Jail for Decade

Justin Carter's attorney says his shooting rant was sarcastic

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2014 9:33 AM CST
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(Newser) – Two months after the Sandy Hook school shootings, Justin Carter went on a sarcastic Facebook rant—a rant that could land the 18-year-old in prison for a decade. It's not clear how the conversation started, but an extensive Dallas Observer piece on the case says it was "a duel between dorks" and may have been related to the computer game League of Legends. Carter wrote, in response to earlier comments that are not known, "I'm f---ed in the head alright, I think I'ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN. AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN. AND EAT THE BEATING HEART OF ONE OF THEM." A so-far unidentified person in Canada saw the post, alerted authorities, and Carter was arrested at the drapery shop he worked at in San Antonio, Texas. Prosecutors don't have the entire conversation, just the cellphone screenshot containing the above comments sent to them by the Canadian tipster.

Carter has been charged with a third-degree terroristic threat, and faces a sentence of two to 10 years, despite the fact that authorities found no guns, bomb-making materials, or other suspicious items in his home, according to his lawyer, Don Flanary. He was held in jail for five months before being released on bail, and during that time Flanary says he was attacked and sexually assaulted by other inmates and that authorities coerced his confession. Flanary calls his client's case "totally and completely bonkers," arguing that, in the Observer's words, "if someone is criminally charged on the basis of his words, a jury needs to see all the words." He also maintains that Carter's words were hyperbolic: "If you don't have a true threat," he says, "then the First Amendment protects your speech." The Observer has much more on the case and Carter's past, which does include a temporary restraining order an ex was granted against him in 2011.

In this May 16, 2012 file photo, a Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPad in New York.
In this May 16, 2012 file photo, a Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPad in New York.   (AP Photo/James H. Collins, File)
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I thought as soon as the police talk to him, they will see it was a joke and let him go. If anything, it would be a misdemeanor. I thought if they talked to him, they would realize it was just his sarcastic sense of humor. - Jennifer, Justin Carter's mom

My son is sarcastic and has a dark sense of humor, for sure. But he's a pussycat. He can't fight. He has a younger brother, and when they would fight, Carter would always lose. - Jennifer, Justin Carter's mom

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