A Young Man's Violent Threat on Facebook Lands Him in Jail, and Limbo

Justin Carter said he would "shoot up a kindergarten," but is that a "terroristic threat" according to Texas law?

In a CNN interview, Carter's father, Jack, said that his son was under suicide watch.

"He's very depressed," Jack Carter said. "He's very scared and he's very concerned that he's not going to get out. He's pretty much lost all hope."

Carter's mother, Jennifer, told the World Socialist Web Site in June 2013 that when she first found out her son had been arrested, "I thought as soon as the police talk to him, they will see it was a joke and let him go. If anything, it would be a misdemeanor. I thought if they talked to him, they would realize it was just his sarcastic sense of humor."

Prosecutors have failed to produce the entire thread containing Carter's alleged threat, according to his attorney, Don Flanary.
Image courtesy of Don Flanary
Prosecutors have failed to produce the entire thread containing Carter's alleged threat, according to his attorney, Don Flanary.
Attorney Don Flanary of San Antonio says Justin Carter was coerced into confessing to something that wasn't even a crime.
Josh Huskin
Attorney Don Flanary of San Antonio says Justin Carter was coerced into confessing to something that wasn't even a crime.

When asked what kind of person Carter was, Jennifer said, "My son is sarcastic and has a dark sense of humor, for sure. But he's a pussycat. He can't fight. He has a younger brother, and when they would fight, Carter would always lose."

Then, shortly after Flanary requested the bond-reduction hearing, good news came in the form of an anonymous donor who put up the money for Carter's bond.

But in an August 2013 update on the Save Justin Carter page, Jennifer Carter expressed her continued fear over her son's future. "Justin is out of jail," she wrote, "but he is not free."
_____________________

If Carter is to be measured by his Facebook activity, he is, with a few notable exceptions, a pretty typical kid. At least for a nerd.

Certainly, he appears to be more comfortable online, where he met fellow fans of games like League of Legends and Minecraft. He boasted of high gaming scores, griped about school and work, and wrote a zombie-apocalypse story in which he alternately protects "New Austin" from the cannibalistic walking dead and gets laid like a champ. He playfully sparred with his parents, who are divorced, and doted on his younger brother.

The big red flag is his reference to a temporary restraining order a high school ex-girlfriend obtained against him in October 2011. The ex, who asked not to be named, told the Press that, when she told him she wanted to end things after two weeks with him, Carter's behavior scared her. She says he talked about hurting himself — and her.

"At first I thought he was just playing," she says. "I blew it off."

But then, she says, "He started threatening me, saying that he would kill me...I told the school officers, [and] they started watching him really closely. He would say that he would shoot up the school." She also accused him of stalking her.

Because she and Carter were juveniles at the time, the order is not public, and the woman said she did not have a copy. The woman said she was in foster care at the time and ran away from her group home before attempting to secure a permanent restraining order.

"There wasn't a determination either way about the veracity of her claims, and he [was] never given an opportunity to answer it," Flanary says, adding that it's entirely irrelevant to the charge against his client.

Carter made light of the restraining order at the time, writing on Facebook, "Wow [I] can't believe im already at the phase in my life where my crazy ex takes a restraining order out on me>.>now [I] have to go to court when im not even gonna argue it im just gonna be like YES GIVE ME ONE TOO PLEASE [sic]."

Shortly afterward, Carter claimed he was engaged to another student, writing that "she is the love of my life and I am so happy, please be happy with me, If you are interested in attending our wedding which we be held late next year, please let me know thank you [sic]."

But comments posted earlier that year are darker. In January 2011 he wrote, "Noone likes me, I have no friends. I'm ugly, I'm annoying. The only good aspect is im smart. Too smart. Soo smart it bothers people. They think im crazy im not christian another strike against me. Im weird. Noone likes the weird random kid [sic]."

In April he wrote, "Suicide. Yea. Im thinking about it, wish I had bigger balls. Id fucking kill my self RIGHT NOW, but no im a pussy I hate my self [sic]." This was followed a day later with "kill self," which drew concern from his mother.

Jennifer Carter posted on her son's Facebook page, with unknowing prescience, "You really need to think about what you're posting, Justin, you have people worried about your safety..."
_____________________

According to Flanary, a funny thing happened when Carter got a new lawyer and media coverage exploded.

Comal County prosecutors, who wanted Carter off the streets for eight years, offered ten years' probation, with Carter pleading guilty to the felony charge. Flanary says he was insulted.

"The fact is, the case should be dismissed," he says. "He didn't do anything wrong...That's what dictatorships all around the world used to do. They'd say, 'If you confess to your crimes against the state, we will let you go.' I mean, fuck you. I didn't do anything wrong...'Just admit you're a witch or we'll burn you. Why won't you just admit you're a witch?'"

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24 comments
ThisIsCrazy
ThisIsCrazy

Honestly I'm shocked people actually think its okay to jail a stupid child and subject him to such shitty conditions for 2-10years.. People saying that he deserves to be punished for making such a threatening comment are right, but this is way too much... Maybe a fine, or a warning to scare him and make him understand what he did is wrong.


 Not to mention he said jk and lol afterwards? But that was conveniently left out? Man I'm Canadian and I've seen a documentary comparing the USA and Canada and it was saying how paranoid Americans (in general (sorry if it sounds racist)) are, they all lock their doors and always think someone is going to kill them, but I never realized how crazy it is down there...


Also it kinda does bug me that they keep emphasizing it was a Canadian who sent the tip off. And I do get the feeling the tipper was that Hannah Love or whoever he had that argument with. It really is tragic what happened to this guy.. He was clearly already depressed and having issues but now... not to jinx it but I don't think he'll ever get better after this.. So much time wasted and being raped, humiliated, and all this other crap.. I just don't see how people can think this is okay.. Not to mention if they actually see how angry people are in League of Legends or competitive games in general... I can't believe this case has gotten so far.

kbmtx
kbmtx

What he did is what all teenagers do. Bitch to friends, say shocking and outrageous things, argue with anyone, feel all alone/emo angst like. The biggest difference is we now have this platform to say anything we want at any time with 'anonymity' and we don't think about how it comes out.

I was a kid like him. Hard working, never been in a fight, also thought of suicide as a teenager (like most of them) and i definitely said dumb things like 'Oh i'm gonna kill this person!' Or "god these kids should get hit by cars"

I still say thinks like 'I hate ___! I just wanna kill her/him/it!' or 'F this place let it burn!' That doesn't mean I am going to follow through with any of that. It is just venting frustrations or annoyances. 


The police should never have arrested him and held him for so long in Jail. If anything respond to something like that and get a search warrant. If there is no sign of planning, or anything that shows intent...let them go with a fine for being a dumb ass. Or something else along those lines. Max time allowed to hold someone...48hrs at the police station, not a prison with actual Criminals.

Besides I am fairly sure that if someone was planning on shooting up a kindergarten, or bombing something they wouldn't post it on line for everyone to see. 

thirteenmitredabbots
thirteenmitredabbots

The person in Canada did not initiate this. I stopped reading after that. I see in the comments he was raped. That is another issue. Just because the jails need to be cleaned up doesn't mean that crimes should be ignored. I feel sorry for him on a personal level but he did this to himself. 

RebeccaS
RebeccaS

This type of article is what The Houston Press does best. Thanks, Mr. Malisow.

Stuart Leo Dulek
Stuart Leo Dulek

Okay, so I read the article and the judicial system in that county sucks big time, what they need to do is counter sue for mistrial and take it to the circuit court! But that's cuz the prosecution was so messed up as far as the merits if the case the guy should definitely be charged with some crime I mean comments like that are ridiculous and uncalled for, get some social sense or be charged with crime but it should be like $500 or a week in jail not some crazy two years stuff

Joedee
Joedee

Prosecutorial overreach is an epidemic in the United States. These douchebags are careerists first and foremost, and in their mechanical minds, they think they need to put as many people in jail as possible, whether guilty or innocent, in order to further those aims.

bdoppes
bdoppes

he'd already done time! / while real idiots walk free / then there's the anonyminity of the Canadian b**tch self-proclaimed watchdog and superior suburban mom that lands a young main into a jail cell and nothing is done to investigate her???/  people say and talk Sh** all the time on the net/ and facebook blocks so much BUT they let bullying 'threads' roll on and on/  so done with facebook/ the hipocrasy is surreal with them / then there's this media zealot prosecutor- Thorpe- something- from bum f** texas that 'has her eye' on this case / this case gets me so upset

fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

Sounds like he is the victim of an egregiously ambitious prosecutor. Good on Flanary for taking his case.

Venessa Singh
Venessa Singh

Agreeed^^ all that stuff that happened to him after he posted that comment is a result of his stupidity .. Serves him right indeed

Erica Murphey
Erica Murphey

I think the guy was looking for attention in a twisted sort of way but he needs to learn that the police take that stuff seriously and it's not funny. It serves him right.

Anon
Anon

Facebook is a public space. You can't walk into a crowded theater and scream, "Fire!." It's against the law. And you shouldn't be able to go on a social media site and announce -whether you are joking or not - that you are about to go massacre a bunch of children. This has nothing to do with free speech. If this asshole has to spend some time in jail in order to learn that he needs to shut his fucking mouth when he gets a sociopathic thought then I say so what. Maybe other clowns like this kid will take heed and learn some basic manners.

DoomsdayJay
DoomsdayJay

The real reason Comal County Jail is being so hush hush about this is because they are covering up what happens inside. Listen to this recording made by a whistle blower to the jail about Justin and the conditions of said jail. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnz99usCQZQ


Also Google search Friends And Family Of Comal County Inmates for more resources and other recordings.

awoundedbeast
awoundedbeast

@thirteenmitredabbots He did it to himself.... yes quite the words of an empathetic person who truly feels sorry for someone, Pontius Pilate. You didn't keep reading to the point where it was explained that it actually wasn't a crime and the powers that be that you so mindlessly defer to are desperately holding on hoping for a plea because they fear being held accountable for their actions. And by actions I mean being accessaries to rape. If you send someone to prison -- where their safety is your responsibility -- and that person gets raped then you are like the guy holding Jodie Foster to the pinball machine in The Accused. You are complicit in the crime. By excusing the behavior of the authorities and willingly remaining ignorant, you are also complicit.

varuka
varuka

So, fuck the First Amendment then?

varuka
varuka

So, if you say something someone else doesn't like, that means you should be raped then, correct? I'm really offended by your statement. Bend over.

tjs_mail_2
tjs_mail_2

Are you saying he deserved to be raped, Erica Murphey?

awoundedbeast
awoundedbeast

@Anon  You analogy fails. Saying it was like he walked into a theatre and shouted fire would imply that he made these comments in a place where people at the school could actually hear them and have their safety threatened by the commotion. This is more like shouting fire into a phone, having the receiver put on speaker phone, then the shout echoes down the street into the open door of a theater and then someone with super hearing hears the whisper of fire and freaks out. Yeah, the guy who said fire in that case deserves to be hanged. Right?

craig.malisow
craig.malisow

@Anon  "This has nothing to do with free speech." Well, actually, it sort of has everything to do with free speech -- hence, the story. The state must prove that his comment meets the definition of "terroristic threat" as charged. Not to repeat a cliche here, but just because someone finds a comment offensive or "sociopathic," that does not automatically make that comment meet the definition of terroristic threat as codified by Texas law. 

 
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