Former Army Sergeant granted new trial after being convicted over Facebook post

Army veteran Dale Jefferies

Tennesee – A federal judge is ordering a new trial for a veteran previously convicted of using threatening violence in rap lyrics featured on YouTube.

43-year-old Franklin Delano Jeffries II, also known as “Dale,” is a former US Army Sergeant and an Iraq War veteran who was arrested last year after mentioning on Facebook that he had a bomb and “everyone in Knoxville will die on Thanksgiving.”

Jeffries was previously convicted of threatening to kill or injure Knox County Chancellor Mike Moyers in a rap song.

Senior US District Judge Thomas Phillips has vacated Jeffries’ 2011 conviction, citing a Supreme Court precedent saying prosecutors must prove a defendant “intended to convey a ‘true’ threat.”

“It is clear that if (Jeffries) today made the threats he made in 2010 and then was charged with a violation of (the law at issue), the government would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to convey a ‘true’ threat, and this court would be obliged to instruct the jury accordingly,” Phillips wrote.

According to Knox News, Jeffries never used Moyers’ name in the rap video. In fact, the county chancellor had never seen the video in question until the FBI told him about it.

Furthermore, prosecutors presented no proof that Jeffries took steps to carry out his threats, and Jeffries contended he was merely “blowing off steam” in the video’s song, a tune that mentioned Moyer’s involvement in Jeffries’ lost custody battle over his daughter.

Judge Phillips could have erased the conviction but instead gave the prosecution a chance to prove their case against Jeffries in the court of law.

“As (Jeffries) is now entitled to have the United States prove his subjective intent in making the threats he did, so also is the United States entitled to present evidence of that intent,” Phillips wrote.

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