The Austin Chronicle

Felony Charges Dropped in "Facebook Threat" Case

By Austin Sanders, April 6, 2018, 11:00am, Newsdesk

After five years, Justin Carter can rest easy. The New Braunfels native, charged in 2013 with making a “terroristic threat” by posting vaguely threatening comments on Facebook, last week accepted a plea deal dismissing the felony charges against him.

Carter faced 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and in exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report or alarm was let off with time served.

Carter’s case hinged on comments he posted after feuding with a fellow online gamer – he said he was “fucked in the head” and would "shoot up a kindergarten” – but his lawyers Don Flanary and Chad Van Brunt (who worked the case pro bono) argued the remarks were sarcastic and could not be taken seriously. Carter was set for trial in February, but saw that delayed so prosecutors could pursue a Canadian witness (the mother of the gamer). On March 28, the day he was expected in court for a bond hearing, prosecutors dropped charges in exchange for the plea deal.

Flanary said he was prepared to defend Carter at trial and was taken aback by the state’s decision. But he said on Thursday “justice had been done” and he was glad his client could finally escape the shadow of a felony charge.

Carter has since moved to Colorado, where he hopes to open a new chapter. He opened a GoFundMe page and hopes to recoup losses from the wages he was unable to earn on account of his strict bond conditions, which he said “prevented me from obtaining a stable job, and prevented me from accessing the internet to work or apply for work.” He also hopes to use that money to pursue his dream of becoming an entertainer and comedian. In the meantime, he will operate a Twitch channel in which he will stream video of him playing games and speaking on the murky boundaries of free speech, something he learned a great deal about over the past five years. He plans to avoid using language that could be construed as terroristic.

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