A Grand Rapids man who made disquieting tweets to a social justice activist in Maryland was chastised by a judge Thursday for posting “repulsive’’ messages about killing Jews.
The messages sent by 31-year-old David Lenio talked about school shootings, gas chambers and ‘subhuman Jewish filth.’
“I don’t think there’s any place in society for the things that you’re saying,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock told Lenio. “God forbid that you would ever act out some of these things.’’
A Kent County jury in June convicted Lenio of a misdemeanor count of malicious use of a telecommunications service, which is punishable by up to six months in jail. He was found not guilty on two felony counts of aggravated stalking and using a computer to commit a crime.
“You only talked about things that you wanted to do and I believe that’s why the jury found you not guilty of the more serious charges,’’ Trusock said.
During a sentencing hearing Thursday, Aug. 17, Trusock credited Lenio for the nearly four months he’s already spent in jail. He placed him on probation for two years and told Lenio to stay clear of schools and synagogues. Lenio did not comment at his sentencing.
Lenio, who had been living in Montana, was arrested in February after being back in Michigan for only a short period. He got into trouble for making threatening tweets while living in Kalispell, Montana two years ago.
The recipient of those tweets – and the ones sent from Grand Rapids – was Jonathan Hutson. Hutson is a social activist and communications consultant based in Washington, D.C. He has nearly 70,000 followers on the social media site Twitter. Hutson posts messages on politics and human rights, including religious liberty and free speech.
Lenio sent Hutson tweets expressing a desire to “shoot up a school’’ and to murder grade-school students, investigators said.
The tweets landed him in a Montana jail for malicious intimidation. He spent about five months in jail there before he was released under a delayed prosecution agreement.
Under the accord, officials in Kalispell, Montana deferred prosecution for two years. The 2016 agreement required that he stay off social media and have no contact with witnesses in the case, including Hutson.
Criminal charges were filed earlier this year in Grand Rapids when Lenio violated terms of that agreement through “unconsented contact’’ with Hutson via social media.
Defense attorney Peter Vangelderen said Lenio has never had any contact with Hutson other than on social media.
That social media contact, and the content of the messages, Trusock said, were “very concerning.’’
“You said your religion said it is cool to shoot Jewish people in the heads with guns,’’ the judge said. “You talked about shooting children. You talked about wanting to work at gas chambers.’’
In addition to probation, Trusock fined Lenio $1,000 and ordered that he receive mental health treatment. “You have some very serious mental health issues,’’ the judge told Lenio.
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