An anonymous donor has stumped up $500,000 in bail money to return incarcerated League of Legends player Justin Carter home, for the time being. Police arrested the 19-year-old Texan in February after LoL trash talk spilled onto Facebook. Dubbed “crazy” by another player, Carter replied with a comment since described as ‘sarcastic’: “I’m f-ed in the head alright. I think I’ma shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.”
Carter claims to have been assaulted repeatedly by other inmates, and has subsequently spent the majority of his four months in prison in solitary confinement. Prison guards have stripped the San Antonio resident of his clothes and replaced them with a gown after he was placed under suicide watch.
Carter’s next court hearing is set for July 16, on Tuesday. If convincted, he could serve up to ten years for making “terrorist threats” – a third-degree felony in the US.
“We still need your help,” wrote Jennifer Carter, Justin’s mother. “I’m happy to have him out right now, but my son is still facing a felony terrorism charge and years in prison if found guilty. I have said all along that his Facebook joke was made in poor taste and understand why it raised some concern, but Justin has no prior record and he was clearly not actually threatening anyone.”
“He’s a good kid, he has a smart mouth and is a smart ass, but in general he’s just a nerdy little gamer kid who wouldn’t (and couldn’t) hurt anyone,” said dad Jack Carter. “They never found any weapons, not so much as a pocket knife. Just a computer and a modem.”
A Canadian woman spotted the offending Facebook conversation back in February and sent a screenshot to the country’s Crime Stoppers Association, who contacted the Austin Regional Intelligence Center. Austin’s police department then issued an arrest warrant for the then 18-year-old Carter, believing him to live less than half a mile away from an elementary school. In fact, he had moved with his parents to a new address in San Antonio.
Carter rejected a plea deal to reduce his sentence to eight years in prison. On April 10, a grand jury suggested Carter made terrorist threats “with the intent to cause impairment or interruption of communications, public transportation, public water, gas or public supply or other public service” and to “place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury.”
Defence attorney Donald Flanary says Carter is the victim of a lack of “discretion” on the part of law enforcement.
“They’re so petrified by the world we live in, post-Sandy Hook, post-9-11, they don’t want to be the officer who has to say that something happened on their watch,” Flanary told GameFront. “And I don’t blame them, obviously they don’t want to have a school shooting in their backyard. I get that. The reality is that it’s okay to investigate, it’s not okay to continue to prosecute and arrest when it’s clear that it’s sarcasm.
“He was not talking in public, he was not talking to [the woman who reported the comment]. He wasn’t trying to make anyone afraid, he was intending to be sarcastic and say something distasteful and offensive. His speech is fundamentally protected by the First Amendment.”
Jennifer Carter has been running a Change.org petition for her son’s release that more than 125,000 have signed to date. Find it here.