Jury convicts Kansas man of threatening to kill congressman

Jury convicts Kansas man of threatening to kill congressman

TOPEKA, Kan. — A federal courtroom jury convicted a Kansas man who insisted {that a} dying menace he made in opposition to U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner was a message from God, amid what authorities have stated is a pointy rise in threats against members of Congress and their households.

Jurors discovered Chase Neill, 32, of Lawrence, responsible of a single depend of threatening a U.S. authorities official. The presiding choose instructed jurors that to search out Neill responsible, they needed to conclude {that a} cheap particular person would discover that he had made a real menace and meant to both intimidate LaTurner or intrude along with his work as a Republican congressman representing jap Kansas.

Neill acted as his personal legal professional and cross-examined LaTurner on the witness stand Wednesday. Neill testified Thursday that he was a messenger from God and he handed alongside a message from God threatening LaTurner for ignoring issues about sorcery, wizards, extraterrestrials and a conflict for folks’s souls.

Federal prosecutors stated Neill fixated on LaTurner earlier than leaving an after-hours voicemail June 5 with the congressman’s Topeka workplace that included, “I’ll kill you.” LaTurner testified that he apprehensive about his household’s and employees’s security and beefed up safety at his dwelling and Topeka workplace.

“You can’t cloak your self in spiritual perception and justify such a menace,” federal prosecutor Stephen Looking stated in his closing remarks. “There’s a line you can not cross.”

Neill sat calmly as U.S. District Choose Holly Teeter learn the jury’s verdict, which got here after about two hours of deliberation. He politely declined to have the jury polled and, when requested whether or not he had extra concerning the case to debate, he stated, calmly, “No, your honor.”

As a marshal handcuffed him, his mom, Pamela Neill, who had watched the three-day trial, instructed him, “I like you.”

Teeter scheduled Neill’s sentencing for April 11. He might face 10 years in jail and a advantageous of $250,000.

The choose had Neill give his testimony Thursday as a story from the witness stand as a result of he was representing himself. Neill interrupted his feedback to verify paperwork have been projected onto 4 huge screens on a wall behind him and to seek advice from the choose and prosecutors about what proof could be allowed. Prosecutors didn’t cross-examine him.

Neill admitted in courtroom that he left the June 5 voicemail and others with extra dying threats the following day. However he stated he was conveying a message from God that LaTurner and different officers confronted dying by an act of God, comparable to a twister or hurricane, for attacking God’s creation.

“This isn’t me saying, ‘I’m going to chase you down with a knife,’ or one thing like that,” Neill stated in his closing argument.

His mom, combating again tears, instructed reporters upon leaving the courtroom, “He by no means raised a hand on anyone.”

Threats in opposition to members of Congress have elevated for the reason that Jan. 6, 2021, rebel on the U.S. Capitol. In October, an intruder severely beat former U.S. Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer of their San Francisco dwelling.

Native faculty board members and election employees throughout the nation even have endured harassment and threats. Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week arrested a failed Republican legislative candidate over a sequence of shootings focusing on elected Democratic officers’ properties or workplaces.

Looking instructed jurors that it was cheap for LaTurner and his employees to take Neill’s phrases significantly as threats.

LaTurner stated in a press release after the decision: “Violence and threats of violence don’t have any place in our society.”

Neill stated his issues a couple of conflict for souls have been sparked by a Might 13 story on the Kansas Reflector information web site a couple of legislative debate by which a western Kansas lawmaker urged colleagues to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a measure that will have restricted public well being officers’ energy in epidemics following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Republican state Rep. Tatum Lee was quoted as saying, “The conflict is actual you all. We’re combating for the soul of our nation.”

Neill instructed jurors he values his soul and was required by God to behave when he “heard the sound of the trumpet.”

He additionally confirmed jurors a LinkedIn web page for himself, saying he handled “issues regarding over 400 million lives misplaced with excessive sorcery.”

Neill testified that in 2018, “God got here to me very instantly,” with out elaborating. A U.S. Justice of the Peace choose stated in an August order refusing to launch Neill from custody that Neill had suffered a head damage 4 or 5 years in the past “characterised as a head fracture.”

However the trial choose concluded final month that Neill was able to following what goes on in courtroom and aiding his legal professionals, making him mentally competent to face trial. She granted his request to behave as his personal legal professional, beginning Wednesday.

“I’m actually attempting to clarify how I work together with God, and it’s a troublesome clarification,” Neill instructed jurors throughout his testimony Thursday. “I apologize.”

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