Trial set for man charged with tweeting threats against Obama | News
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- The Birmingham man charged with tweeting threats against President Obama appeard in federal court for a hearing today.
Jarvis Britton, 25, was supposed to change his plea to guilty in the case, but that didn't go as planned.
For around the first hour, it seemed like a standard plea agreement hearing. Britton was charged in September 2012 with tweeting a message threatening to kill President Barack Obama.
"Let's kill the president. F.E.A.R." is just one of several threatening messages Britton tweeted in June and September 2012, according to court documents.
Britton's attorneys asked that he be mentally evaluated. Today U.S. Judge Lynwood Smith ruled that despite the fact Britton is on prescription medication for bi-polar disorder and an anti-psychotic medication, he is still mentally competent to stand trial. That decision is based on an evaluation by a clinical and forensic psychologist.
Immediately after the judge made that ruling, Britton told the judge he wanted to withdraw his original plea of not guilty and enter a guilty plea instead.
The court then proceeded with the normal hearing that follows such a plea, including at one point Britton agreeing that he had tweeted the message, "Let's kill the president. F.E.A.R."
But when it came down to the portion of the hearing in which Britton was asked again if he agreed with the facts the government was accusing him of, he told the judge he did not agree.
Britton said, "I wasn't talking about Barack Obama...I was talking about the Barack Assad. That's what F.E.A.R. Means...Free Everyone Assad Regime."
At that point, Judge Smith said he could not enter his guilty plea and set a trial date for the 25-year-old Birmingham man.
Britton was presumably referencing the president of Syria in his statement to the judge, but the president's name is Bashar Al-Assad, not Barack Assad and Britton said.
Secret Service agents also say that Britton tweeted several threatning messages in June 2012, including one that said, "Barack Obama, I wish you were DEAD!"
So what did Jarvis Britton really mean?
That will all come out in the trial, which is set for March 18.
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