Monday, July 18, 2005

The zombie returns (the Kentucky zombie, not the Hitler zombie)

Months before there was the Hitler zombie, another zombie managed to take up some posting space on Respectful Insolence.

The Kentucky Zombie.

True, the Hitler zombie was momentarily tempted to make another comeback to snack on the brain of Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey for saying that terrorists were more evil than Hitler because at least Hitler liked some people (tip o' the hat to Patridiot Watch):
Hitler, in his philosophy, was, you know, he hated Jews, he was murdering Jews, and there were some people he liked. But he never went to the level that these people are going to.
You know, even the Hitler zombie has standards, and LoBiondo seems to have too little brain matter to make it worth his while to get out of the grave. Either that, or the famished old Fuhrer snacked so much on his brain that there's nothing left. Heck, LoBiondo's stupidity is not even worth going on for more than one or two sentences about how utterly idiotic his comparison was.

This time, though, the Kentucky zombie will not be denied.

The Kentucky zombie story emerged about four months ago. It's about an 18-year old high school student named William Poole from Clark County in Kentucky who was arrested for "terroristic threatening" after his grandparents found a notebook that disturbed them. According to the boy, the notebook contained nothing but stories about zombies attacking a school. Why he claimed this is unknown, given that it doesn't appear that the stories were actually about zombies. According to the police, it was full of writings that to me sounded like bad fiction about a band of boys Poole called the "True Soldiers" or the "No Limit Soldiers" (NLS for short), who operated out of four zones, Clark County, Barbourville, South Carolina and New York City. In Poole's writings, the NLS spoke about taking over a school, how long it would take for the police to get there, etc. However, nowhere did he mention a specific school or a specific target, and everything was written in the past tense.

My main concern about this story was that a vague "terroristic threatening" law was being used to prosecute a young man who looks to be more in need of therapy than of jail. This police claim that the law states that the very nature of Poole's stories made them a felony as "terroristic threats" against a school. My conclusion was that the "terroristic threatening" law was a bad, bad law and a threat to free speech. Although some pointed out that the law didn't necessarily say what the police claimed it said, my point was that this was a distinction without a difference, as I said:
It is utterly irrelevant to me what the "original" intent of the terroristic threatening law was. I am concerned with how it is being used now. You can't deny that the post-9/11 hysteria has made it easier for a law like this to be expanded so easily and with so little opposition. And my very point was that the interpretation of the law has broadened to the point where it is being used for dubious purposes, like arresting William Poole. Notice that the "terroristic threatening" law is the only law under which Poole was arrested. If he were truly making threats and truly developing a conspiracy, there are plenty of other laws that he could be prosecuted under.
Later, Poole was rearrested for violating a restraining order and going near a school. He had been ordered as a condition of his parole not to go near any county schools but apparently went with a friend to an elementary school, where his friend needed to pick up his sister. He has been sentenced to six months in jail for violating a judge's order. The whole case became a national cause célèbre and sparked numerous rumors in Clark County, including that Poole had threatened to use deadly force against his family and the town and that his bail was arranged by CNN. I also note that Poole had shown his work to a teacher, who had warned him that he could be in trouble if others at the school ever saw it, an action that hardly seems like that of someone who was actually planning the violent takeover of a school.

Now, via Zero Intelligence, I've discovered that the grand jury has handed down an indictment. However, they've declined to indict Poole on the felony count of second degree terroristic threatening. Instead, they've indicted him on an attempt to commit terroristic threatening, a class A misdemeanor.

I have to confess to feeling a bit of satisfaction here that a grand jury wouldn't buy what the police and prosecution were telling them and knocked the charge down to the lesser attempt to commit terroristic threatening, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months. Grand juries usually tend to rubberstamp whatever charges the prosecutor wants to bring, and seeing a grand jury refuse to go along with the prosecutor is often an indication of how weak the prosecutor's case is. In any case, if this case makes it to trial, I will be very interested in seeing the totality of Poole's writings, to see if my interpretation (that the police and prosecutors overreacted) is correct or if these writings really seem as though they represent an actual threat. Kentucky law. Thus far, only a few highly selected excerpts from the journals have been revealed by the police, and, as I pointed out, even those don't support a charge of terroristic threatening. Is it possible that, even in a post-Columbine, post-9/11 world, that the law will be able to avoid a miscarriage of justice that throws a disturbed young man who almost certainly needs therapy more than punishment into jail?

Stay tuned. Assuming there isn't a plea bargain that ends up sealing Poole's writings forever so that we can never judge for ourselves whether the police and prosecutors overreacted (an outcome I worried about three months ago), hopefully we'll soon find out.

2 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 7/18/2005 10:56 AM, Anonymous Kristjan Wager said...

As the case has been described in the media, it's exactly the kind of case that ACLU and others have been warning against might happening. Such a case should never lead to prosecution nor a restraining order.

 

At 7/18/2005 9:41 PM, Blogger Greg P said...

My son printed out a list of "known sex offenders" in our community (Louisville), here in Kentucky -- it was over 30 pages long...
the real Kentucky zombies.

 

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