Monday, August 16, 2010

"I Want to Kill 500 People!" Is Not a Terrorist Threat (Lexington, KY) reports on the Knox County school teacher acquitted of terror threat charges after a 10 minute deliberation.  Apparently the charge stemmed from an errant remark relating to the relief of stress made by the teacher at the end of a school day about a popular computer game.  This is reporter Bill Estep's account:

"A former Knox County teacher has been acquitted of a charge that he made a comment at school about wanting to kill hundreds of people. The jury deliberated just 10 minutes Wednesday before finding Jason Davis not guilty, said his attorney, David Hoskins.  Davis, 29, was charged in May 2009 with second-degree terroristic threatening, a felony.

Barbourville police arrested Davis after he allegedly told students he would like to relieve stress by killing 500 people.  However, the comment was in reference to playing a video game, according to Davis and his attorney. 'He should never have been charged,' Hoskins said.  Davis, a first-year math teacher at Knox Central High School, had trouble managing his classroom at times.

On the day he allegedly made the threat, a student had hidden some markers while Davis was out of the classroom briefly, and Davis was having a stressful day.  The student who hid the markers had played online video games with Davis before the incident. When he brought back the markers later that day, he asked Davis whether he would be online that evening, Hoskins said.

That's when Davis made the remark about killing people, as part of a video game, Hoskins said. Davis told the (Lexington) Herald-Leader that other students overheard his comment but did not know the context. Students told teachers about the comment, and administrators and police were called in. Davis said he thinks police and school authorities over-reacted.

The school system had notified Davis before the incident that he would not be rehired for the 2009-10 school year.  He spent a month in jail [empahasis supplied-BL] before being released on bond, and he is now unemployed. Davis said he will explore teaching options but is concerned that talk about the charge will follow him despite the acquittal.

'I don't know that I would want fingers pointed at me' at a new school, he said."
Wow, talk about a lawsuit!  A month in jail and a damaged if not destroyed career in education.  The prosecution scenario is reminiscent of the witness testimony in Arthur Miller's play the Crucible.  Scary.

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