Threats land 
man in prison 
for 40 months

Kenneth Wheeler



WHEELER_Kenneth_mug

Kenneth Wheeler

A Grand Junction man who posted death threats on his Facebook page against a trio of Grand Junction police officers and their families was sentenced Wednesday to serve 40 months in federal prison.

Kenneth Wheeler, 32, also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his prison sentence. Wheeler was sentenced Wednesday afternoon in Denver by U.S. District Judge William Martinez. He faced a maximum possible prison term of 10 years for his jury trial conviction in September on two counts of felony sending interstate threatening communications.

Wheeler was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2012 after a tipster reported a series of posts on Facebook. The posts named Grand Junction police officers Adam Winch, Tim Janda and Mark Brown, while urging readers to take aim at “rapists, pedophiles and cops.”

The posts also mentioned the officers’ children.

Wheeler wrote in one of his posts, “… the americans cant punish me for what i say here in rome, italy, on facebook,” according to the indictment.

Facebook security personnel provided to federal authorities information about Wheeler’s latest account sessions, showing IP computer addresses in Rome, Italy.

Federal prosecutors argued to the jury last September that Wheeler was angry with the police department because of a May 2011 drunken-driving arrest.

Wheeler’s defense had argued he’d already deleted all of his Facebook “friends” and had his privacy settings and status updates limited to friends and networks. Therefore, his lawyer argued, he believed nobody would see the posts.

Wheeler also argued he was protected by the First Amendment.

“Mr. Wheeler asserts that the (Facebook) status updates were venting of outrageously angry words and that he was not declaring any intention ...” his attorneys wrote in a pretrial filing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Covell told jurors during closing arguments in the trial, “Ladies and gentlemen, the First Amendment allows you to burn a flag in protest of the government, but it doesn’t allow you to threaten to burn the faces of the children of the Grand Junction Police Department.”



COMMENTS

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Page 1 of 1


PART 1: It seems to me the anti-1st –Amendment premise of the story is begging for a bit of deconstructing. As a blogger, I try to keep up with 1st Amendment law so I can know the difference between what I’m allowed to say and what I am forbidden to say.
As an aside, it makes no sense that it is illegal to sleep in your own car in your own driveway while drunk, especially if you forgot to take the keys out of you pocket and leave them in the house. That’s a crock on its face. DUI should be exactly that: DRIVING with an illegal level of alcohol in one’s blood, but it seems constitution-hating do-gooders have “erred” on the side of the promoters of the American police state “for the children”.
Another side to the story is the increasing tension inevitable between A) a citizenry awakening with a growing awareness of how arch-criminal debt-as-money oligarchs and the government toadies who serve them are trying to implement a Platonian two-tier —philosopher kings v. mindlessly obedient robot tax/wage serfs complete with RFID chips implanted in their bodies for control (à la Star Wars I) — neofeudalistic economic system on the entire planet, and B) an increasingly militarized domestic police force seemingly determined to violate their oaths to defend the U.S. Constitution and enforce the orders of a criminal political class which is actively trying to destroy the U.S. Constitution for greed-based ideological reasons.
It is noticeable in this story that there has never been adequately presented precise facts devoid of spin. There has always been a pro-police spin. I don’t know the facts, which is part of my objection.
In any free society, there must necessarily be a bright inviolate line between thought/speech and action. Government may punish acts/deeds/behavior, but the 1st Amendment prohibits government from punishing thought/speech. In America, it is perfectly legal AS AN ABSTRACT IDEA to advocate the violent overthrow of government. See the United States Supreme Court decisions of Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957) (http://bit.ly/1dTMXnt) and Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (http://bit.ly/1b647xC). What you can’t do is conduct yourself in such a way as to constitute an immediate threat — e.g. say something like, “Let’s all meet at Osama’s house tonight at midnight and go over to Mr. Fascist Politician’s house and kill him!” — or, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, a “clear and present” danger. See Schenck v. U.S. , 249 U.S. 47 (1919). To understand the development and application of the “clear and present danger” doctrine, it is useful to read such cases as Goldman v. U S , 245 U.S. 474 (1918), Abrams v. U S , 250 U.S. 616 (1919), Frohwerk v. U S , 249 U.S. 204 (1919), Debs v. U S , 249 U.S. 211 (1919), Pierce v. U S , 252 U.S. 239 (1920), Schaefer v. U S , 251 U.S. 466 (1920), and Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951).

PART 2: In the case of Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man who was basically beaten and tortured to death by a gang of rogue cops in Fullerton, California — see the story (http://bit.ly/1cv8LFa) and video (http://bit.ly/1gQJ9Xy) — Thomas’ said, “All of us need to be very afraid now.” “Police officers everywhere can beat us, kill us, whatever they want, but it has been proven right here today they’ll get away with it.”
Lawrence Rosenthal, a law professor at Chapman University School of Law and a former federal prosecutor spoke to the effect that, “Unless the prosecution can prove the officers falsified reports or covered up evidence, jurors are usually willing to acquit.” “Police officers are very unusual kinds of defendants because ... they are seen as acting not in their own interests but acting to protect the public at large, the very people sitting on their jury.” “Jurors are willing to forgive lapses in judgment rather than put an officer in the cage with the same people that officer has spent his life arresting.”
This was apparently the attitude of the jury which convicted Kenneth Wheeler. From the inadequate facts presented, I would want a clarification of the verdict. I believe the law differentiates between actually confronting a person (cop or otherwise) in person and threatening them and/or their children, and merely posting angry “they ought to be shot” type comments on Facebook. The former could be considered “fighting words” in an effort to provoke the person into a fight, which would be unprotected speech, while the latter would be mere opinion, and therefore protected speech. The Sentinel’s version of the story tends to not clarify the line between the two kinds of speech.
Regarding so-called “sedition”, compare the Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497 (1956) dissent to Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (unanimous court). Interested persons can read Supreme Court decisions at http://bit.ly/aFCjoe and http://bit.ly/9bRHsU Just type in the case cite numbers & click “search”.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the unflattering picture of Wheeler which has the affect of making him out to be a arrogant smirking jerk. Those types of pictures are routinely used by the symbiosis between a so-called “mainstream” media entity needing column inches and a selectively leaking “law” enforcement team desirous of polluting the jury pool to whatever extent possible and convicting accused persons in the minds of the public prior to trial. Witness the photograph of Heather Jensen. I’m not taking sides here, I’m merely suggesting that all actors in any given situation play it straight without the wannabe-clever spin, although I realize that’s probably asking for the impossible from a human species that has created a pile of trash twice the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific Ocean.

PART 3. It seems that American pro-police-state jurors will acquit cops who beat defenseless people into a comatose and dying bloody pulp, but convict non-cops for merely verbally venting their anger on Facebook. So what’s to be done about such an evil and unsustainable double standard? I don’t have any easy answers. I do know that America no longer remotely resembles the Founders’ vision. I also believe it’s more than likely that if any specific law had been clearly and unequivocally violated by Mr. Wheeler, that fact would have been made adequately clear in the MSM story telling process.
At the end of the day, there may well be such a thing as karma. If so, it’s definitely bad karma to post your hatred for cops (however justifiable in your own eyes) on Facebook. In addition to being rude, crude and boring, it’s just plain not smart. Apparently Mr. Wheeler is now finding that out the hard way. It’s also bad karma for the mother of two little boys to leave them unattended for an hour in a car with the heater running, even if she didn’t intend to kill them and even if a self-evidently ignorant person such as she couldn’t have reasonably been expected to know that leaving the heater on with the windows rolled up might kill her two little boys just as dead as if they had frozen to death with the heater off and the windows rolled down.
In a me-first narcissistic culture of victimhood, manipulation, scamming, instant gratification, universally corrupt government and universal fascistic corporate cronyism where nobody (including judges, prosecutors, police and juries) gives a fat rat’s posterior about the history, intent, and letter of the U.S. Constitution, maybe karma is all that we have left to determine the differences between what is just and what is unjust.
With the likes of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, I tend toward free speech absolutism. In the face of a lying political establishment’s best efforts to repress dissenting political speech — the very type of speech most desired to be protected by the Founders’ intent in making the 1st Amendment part of the U.S. Constitution — I wanted to take this opportunity made available by the Sentinel’s inadequately clear story writing to make it crystal clear that free speech is a hill I am willing to die on. I am willing to keep fighting on behalf of free speech and a free Internet until brainwashed American tax-slave-culture jurors are willing to convict dangerous rogue cops of murder in situations where a gang of rogue cops take half an hour to beat an obviously mentally ill person to death. In that type of unsustainable fascistic police-state culture, how can we realistically ever expect better from our own local “Good Old Boy” gang?
Seems to me that question is worth any responsible citizen’s most serious consideration.

PART 4. Ignoring for a moment the karma factor which may have been determinative in Wheeler’s case (bad mouthing children is patently stupid), the Sentinel has never adequately explained the alleged “reason” (even presuming it were not excusable) behind Wheeler’s extreme anger.
I also thought the cutesy “Roman holiday defense doesn’t fly” part of the headline implicated a certain free-speech-chilling agenda which I don’t appreciate.
Since, as Alan Dershowitz pointed out (in his book “Best Defense”) cops lie all the time regarding threshold probable-cause-related facts, it is understandable how citizens can occasionally harbor extreme anger toward the thin blue line when they believe they have been unjustly treated by those whose purpose is to uphold the law instead of violate it. Accordingly I want to know what Wheeler think the cops in question did wrong. The Sentinel never bothers to clarify that.
So, let me clarify something. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled what the Supreme Court has repeatedly implied but never specifically ruled: bloggers, and all other persons, have the same 1st Amendment protections for their speech that institutionalized media has. Being acquainted with some of the arrogant personalities in the local MSM who might like their audiences to presume the MSM is accorded a higher level of 1st Amendment protection than “ordinary people” bloggers, I can assure the local MSM player that such is not the case. I have the same rights they do. See:
Court: Bloggers have First Amendment protections
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_BLOGGER_DEFAMATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-01-17-17-59-06
Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox, 12-35238 (9th Cir. 2014)
http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/01/17/12-35238.pdf
Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n - 08-205 (2010)
http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/558/08-205/opinion.html
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=08-205
Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1974)
http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/418/323/case.html 
Garcia v. Bd. Of Educ., 777 F.2d 1403, 1410 (10th Cir. 1985)
https://www.casetext.com/case/garcia-v-board-of-educ-of-socorro-consol-school-dist 
Snyder v. Phelps, 580 F.3d 206 (4th Cir. 2009), aff’d 131 S. Ct. 1207 (2011)
http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/081026.P.pdf
Flamm v. Am. Ass’n of Univ. women, 201 F.3d 144 (2nd Cir. 2000)
http://www.leagle.com/decision/2000345201F3d144_1327
In re IBP Confidential Bus. Docments Litig., 797 F.2d 632 (8th Cir. 1986)
http://www.leagle.com/decision/19861429797F2d632_11322
Avins v. White, 627 F.2d 737, (3rd Cir. 1980)
https://casetext.com/case/avins-v-white
Davis v. Schuchat, 510 F.2d 731, 734 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1975)
https://casetext.com/case/davis-v-schuchat
Motion for New Trial in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox
http://tech-insider.org/blogging/research/2012/0105.html

Page 1 of 1






Search More Jobs






THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
Sign in to your account
Information

© 2014 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy