AP NEWS

Christy To Face On Trial On Threat, Flight Charges

February 15, 2019

A federal judge denied Shawn Christy’s request for separate trials on charges he threatened President Donald Trump and a law enforcement officer and other counts related to his flight to avoid prosecution. U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani rejected a defense argument that holding one trial for the four charges Christy faces for the threats and seven charges he faces for crimes prosecutors say he committed while on the run would violate his right to a fair trial. Mariani did agree that a 12th count of being a felon in possession of a firearm should be tried heard separately from the other charges. That count will be heard in a separate trial before the same jury after it renders its verdict on the first 11 counts. Christy, 27, of McAdoo was first indicted on July 10 for posting online threats against Trump and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli. He fled the area and remained on the run until Sept. 21, when he was captured in Ohio. A second indictment filed Nov. 27 charged Christy with seven more counts for crimes committed as he avoided capture, including the theft of a vehicle that he drove across state lines and the transportation of various stolen firearms across state lines. A third indictment was issued on Dec. 11, adding an the additional count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Christy’s attorneys, Federal Public Defender Heidi Freese and Assistant Federal Public Defender Elliot Smith argued the threat charges and flight charges should be tried separately because the crimes he allegedly committed while on the run could prejudice the jury against him in deciding if he is guilty of the threat charges. Mariani ruled the escape counts stem from the underlying charges that led Christy to flee, therefore they should be tried together. As for any prejudice to Christy’s defense, Mariani said those concerns can be addressed by instructions he gives jurors regarding their evaluation of the evidence. Mariani found the felon in possession of a firearm charge must be tried separately, however, because evidence that Christy had a prior felony conviction could improperly influence the jury in deciding the 11 other counts. Christy’s trial was scheduled to begin on Feb. 25, but Mariani continued it until May 6. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter