God issued threat to Kansas lawmaker through me

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A person advised jurors Thursday {that a} loss of life risk he made in opposition to U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner got here from God, prompted by the Kansas Republican ignoring considerations about sorcery, wizards, extraterrestrials and a conflict for folks’s souls.

Federal prosecutors say Chase Neill, 32, from Lawrence in northeastern Kansas, fixated on LaTurner earlier than leaving an after-hours voicemail with the congressman’s Topeka workplace that included, “I’ll kill you.” Neill’s trial comes amid a pointy rise in reported threats in opposition to elected officers and their households.

Representing himself in courtroom, Neill admitted that he left that message and others with extra loss of life threats the subsequent day. However he advised jurors that he was merely the messenger, telling LaTurner and different officers that they confronted loss of life by an act of God, akin to a twister or hurricane, for attacking God’s creation.

“I am not going to attempt to pursue him for some kind of violent crime,” Neill mentioned.

Presiding U.S. District Choose Holly Teeter had Neill current his case as a story from the witness stand as a result of he’s appearing as his personal legal professional. He interrupted his feedback to get paperwork projected on 4 massive screens behind him and to convention with the decide and prosecutors over what proof he may current. Prosecutors didn’t cross-examine him, clearing the way in which for closing statements.

He’s charged with a single depend of threatening a public official, punishable by 10 years in jail and a positive of $250,000. The jury should determine whether or not his June 5 voicemail represented a real risk meant to intervene with LaTurner’s official duties.

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Threats in opposition to members of Congress have elevated because the 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 residence.

Native college board members and election staff throughout the nation even have endured harassment and threats. Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week arrested a failed Republican legislative candidate over a collection of shootings concentrating on elected Democratic officers’ houses or workplaces.

In Neill’s case, he mentioned his considerations a few conflict for souls had been sparked by a Could 13 story on the Kansas Reflector information website a few legislative debate through 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 preventing for the soul of our nation.”

In courtroom Thursday, Neill advised 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.”

“I’m held to an obligation by our Creator,” Neill mentioned.

LaTurner testified Wednesday that the June 5 voicemail made him involved concerning the security of his household and employees and prompted him to beef up safety at his residence and Topeka workplace. Cross-examined by Neill, the congressman mentioned he thought-about a few of Neill’s language “ridiculous discuss” however added, “I am extra centered on the the threats of loss of life.”

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A U.S. Justice of the Peace decide mentioned 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.” Neill advised jurors Thursday that in 2018, “God got here to me very straight,” with out elaborating.

However the trial decide concluded final month that Neill is 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.

Neill, a convert to Judaism, mentioned his particular relationship with God causes pure occasions, together with a hurricane and fires. He mentioned he conveyed messages to LaTurner despite the fact that he knew it could possible lead to his being prosecuted.

“I am actually making an attempt to clarify how I work together with God, and it is a tough clarification,” Neill advised jurors. “I apologize.”


Observe John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna