Evan Michael Thompson of Mountain Home who was charged with first-degree terroristic threatening after posting statements on Facebook saying the Norfork school needs a Columbine -- referring to the bloody 1999 massacre at a Colorado high school -- has filed a motion through his attorney asking the court to dismiss charges against him.
In the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the incident resulting in the 20-year-old Thompson's arrest began when a senior at Norfork High School was asked by school authorities to remove campaign signs for an upcoming class officer election. The posters involved images of a cat and wording deemed offensive. The pupil did not fully agree with the school administration's decision and made a post on a social media site pointing a handgun at the cat saying he must kill the animal because the administration thought it offensive.
The situation allegedly prompted Thompson, a friend of the student involved with the signs, to write in a post on a social media outlet that referenced the Columbine shooting. The posting was first brought to the attention of the school resource officer and the Baxter County Sheriff's office became involved. A school resource officer is a sworn law enforcement officer responsible for providing security and crime prevention services in a school environment.
In addition to the written statements, Thompson is said to have posted an image from the Columbine shooting in which 12 students and one teacher were killed.
The two shooters -- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold -- took their own lives about 49 minutes after launching the attack.
The motion to dismiss, filed by Thompson's attorney, Gray Dellinger of Melbourne, contends that Thompson's alleged actions are not of a nature to meet the required elements of the criminal statute under which he was charged.
In his 10-page motion, Dellinger writes the statute on terroristic threatening cannot be read to include language which simply expresses a desired outcome, but is absent physical, verbal or circumstances expressions in which intent to cause that outcome is clearly stated.
The motion contends that in Thompson's social media postings, he made no statement or other indication that he intended to actually carry out any sort of attack on the school.
While the social media posts were alleged to have caused "great concern" by third parties the motion points out that "great concern" by others is not a criminal standard for liability under the statute governing terroristic threatening.
Dellinger also contends in his motion that Thompson's posts should be protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He gives as examples of unprotected speech, "the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or fighting words -- those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."
The Melbourne attorney writes that the case against his client should be dismissed because the facts do not demonstrate sufficient allegations to support a conviction under any constitutional reading of the Arkansas Terroristic Threatening statute, and because Thompson's statements fall within constitutionally protected speech.
Thompson was ordered to reappear in Circuit Court on February 8th.
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