Violent threats against US Congress leads to federal court conviction
Jury felt 'free speech' was violent enough to be called death threat
“If words can kill, they probably will” could be the message after Queens resident and former state court system employee Brendan Hunt was convicted late Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen on federal charges of threatening to kill members of Congress — even though Hunt maintained that his words were harmless rhetoric.
Furthermore, although Hunt testified during the weeklong trial that his posts were often put together while he was impaired from smoking pot from a bong and drinking beer, the jury didn’t buy that as a mitigating factor.
Hunt worked as an assistant court analyst in the Office of Court Administration’s attorney registration unit before his arrest. He had used Facebook to call for the “public execution” of prominent Democrats such as U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“Trump, we want actual revenge on democrats. Meaning, we want you to hold a public execution of pelosi aoc schumer etc. And if you dont do it, the citizenry will. We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take america back!” he wrote on Facebook Dec. 6 under the alias “X-Ray Ultra.”
While the verdict came in case where prosecutors linked Hunt to the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he wasn’t there, although he admitted posting videos and other materials expressing support for the violent mob.
Two days after far-right extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building, Hunt posted an 88-second video on Bitchute urging followers to “Kill your senators,” the federal complaint stated.
Furthermore, in text messages sent to his father and shown in court, he used off-color anti-Semitic and racist slurs. Testifying in the Brooklyn courtroom during the trial, he claimed he was merely trying to get his father’s attention and added, “I wrote a lot of things I didn’t mean.”
Toward the end of the trial, Hunt told the jury that he “didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.”
At the time of his arrest, Federal Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes denied Hunt’s bail application based on the “nature and seriousness of danger to the community, in particular, the legislative community elected officials.”
Defense attorneys had called the charges overblown. They argued Hunt’s posts were protected free speech and that there was no proof that he was a legitimate threat.
The trial featured testimony from a Capitol Police officer about the mayhem on Jan. 6.
A message was left with one of Hunt’s lawyers on Wednesday.
According to various published reports, Hunt’s father is John Hunt, a retired Queens Family Court judge.
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