TERRORISM; AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DANGEROUS (with a knife); KIDNAPPING and MISCONDUCT with WEAPON (gun) all REDUCED to AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (Non Dangerous) and KIDNAPPING with 2.5 YEARS in PRISON – State v. Mr. C (DMC No. 8081) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2007-030014): This was a high profile case in which the domestic terrorism statute was used for the first time. The Maricopa County Attorney at the time – Andrew Thomas (who is now disbarred) used this charged to gain national media attention. We handled the case, and it was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Mr. C was a high school student who had been going through various depressive episodes and was on medication. One day while walking to school, he grabbed a girl from his class and held a knife to her throat and made threats. He then let her go and went home. When police arrived at his house, he was sitting in his house playing video games and he had a back pack next to him which had a gun. He had told officers how he had been bullied and how he wanted to go to school and shoot everyone. Andrew Thomas then saw his opportunity to charge this as a Terrorism case against a 15 year old boy. Because Mr. C had committed an Aggravated Assault with a dangerous weapon, he was facing a mandatory minimum of 5 to 15 years in prison on that charge alone. The Kidnapping charge carried additional potential prison. Through numerous Settlement Conferences in which we presented evidence of Mr. C’s psychological state, and with added pressure from the citizens of Arizona, Andrew Thomas lowered his offer from 7.5 years in prison to 2.5 years in prison. With good behavior, Mr. C was out after 23 months. This case is a classic example of how a power hungry prosecutor can misuse the law for his own purposes to further his political career. In the end, Andrew Thomas was disbarred for other instances of his Abuse of Power.