Tomah man convicted of threatening the life of President Obama: “Killing him is our constitutional duty”

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TOMAH — Officials with the United States Attorney’s Office (for the Western District of Wisconsin) on Wednesday, January 13th announced that 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah was convicted of two counts of threatening the life of the President of the United States, following a two-day jury trial in U.S. District Court in Madison.

Brian Dutcher

Brian Dutcher

The jury reached its verdict Wednesday afternoon after almost five hours of deliberation.

Dutcher traveled to La Crosse on July 1, 2015, where President Barack Obama was scheduled to make a speech the next day.  While at the La Crosse Public Library, Dutcher told a library security officer that he was in La Crosse to shoot the President.

Dutcher also threatened the life of the President in a posting he made on June 30, 2015, on Facebook.  He posted, “that’s it!  Thursday I will be in La Crosse.  Hopefully I will get a clear shot at the pretend president.  Killing him is our CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY!”

“The defendant threatened to kill the President because he disagrees with the president’s policies. The defense contended at trial that these threats were ‘merely political hyperbole.’  By their verdict, the jury rejected this argument.  While dissent and political discourse are protected speech under the First Amendment and the bedrock of democracy, a threat is not protected speech.  When the line is crossed from political disagreement to threatening the life of the President, those who make the threats will be prosecuted and convicted,” United States Attorney John Vaudreuil said.

Dutcher will be sentenced on March 15th. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on each count.

The charges against Dutcher were the result of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the La Crosse Police Department.

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