Those of you who remember Justin Carter, the kid who made some incredibly intense comments about shooting up a kindergarten after a bad League of Legends game, have probably heard a couple of things since his arrest in February, 2013.
Justin Carter will now face trial on a felony terrorist threat charge after his comments on Facebook were given to Austin police by a concerned Canadian.
He and his parents live in New Braunfels, TX, and Carter was transferred there after his arrest at his workplace in San Antonio; his bond was increased from $250k to half a million dollars. During his four months in Comal County Jail, Carter was sexually assaulted and beaten.
You’ll remember that a warrant was issued for the search of Carter’s home–there was no further evidence of any terroristic activity; Carter didn’t own any weapons, though two years prior, an ex-girlfriend at his high school had filed a temporary restraining order after he threatened to hurt himself, kill her, and shoot up their school. Carter’s Facebook activity shows a long history of suicidal thoughts and dark humor.
All that aside, no other evidence convicting Carter exists. The entire case is based off of three Facebook comments. You can see in the image to the left that there isn’t any context given; according to the Dallas Observer,
Flanary believes it’s paramount that if someone is criminally charged on the basis of his words, a jury needs to see all the words. In this case, that includes whatever comment precipitated Carter’s hyperbolic rant.
Don Flanary, Carter’s attorney, has a point.
All we see here are three very damning comments, but that’s all anyone sees. According to Flanary, the grand jury didn’t even see the first part of Carter’s first comment, where he’s “f*cked up in the head, alright…”–all the prosecutor showed was the part about Carter shooting up a kindergarten. No one has been able to obtain the entire thread.
“When you’re dealing with speech… it is absolutely, 100 percent important that the words that you are charging people with are actually the words that they said and not some misrepresentation. And that’s what … this prosecutor did, is misrepresent to the grand jury what he said.”
During his time in jail, though he did have a court-appointed attorney, Carter was questioned by New Braunfels detectives in an attempt to get his confession. It’s important to understand that as long as a person has legal representation, it’s fairly shady for cops to try and interview them without that attorney present, much less aware of the questioning.
Carter’s attorney at the time was unaware that he was being interviewed by detectives. Coerced by the detective’s promise of release, Carter confessed to making the comments, though he did not confess any sort of intent. This confession alone doubled his bond and lead to another transfer back to Comal County Jail, where Carter was sexually assaulted.
It was after this period where Don Flanary offered his services pro bono (for free), and an anonymous donor paid Carter’s $500k bond.
News of his case also went global, which drew a lot of attention to the nature of Carter’s arrest; if you’ve ever seen the movie Minority Report, this is eerily similar. Carter was arrested not because he had actually committed a crime, but because he had (presumably) made a joke about committing a crime.
I believe that New Braunfels detectives are aware of their lack of evidence against Carter. It’s notable that after Flanary offered his services and news went viral, detectives offered Carter ten years probation–that’s a pretty significant reduction from the eight years in prison he was originally facing, but Flanary says he was insulted by the deal. He moved to have the case dismissed in December, but the motion was denied.
Carter faces a felony terrorist threat charge and could receive up to eight years in prison.