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Web Radio Host Gets 2 3/4 Years For Threats

Hal Turner

Internet radio host Hal Turner was sentenced to 33 years in prison for threatening three Chicago federal judges. (Credit: CBS)

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NEW YORK (CBS) – Internet radio host Hal Turner was sentenced to 2 3/4 years in prison in Brooklyn Tuesday for threatening three Chicago judges.

Turner was sentenced to 33 months in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn for threatening to assault three Chicago federal appeals court judges in Chicago, in retaliation for their 2009 ruling that at the time upheld handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park.

The judge that presided in the case, U.S. District Judge Donald Walter of the Western District of Louisiana, also ordered Turner to serve six months’ home confinement after his release. Turner is also to pay a $200,000 fine.

The case arose last year after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook and William Bauer — upheld a ruling that dismissed lawsuits challenging the Chicago and Oak Park handgun bans. The same day, Turner blasted the decision with a lengthy, inflammatory blog post.

Authorities say he went too far by writing: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges must die. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.”

He later posted the judges’ photographs, telephone numbers and work addresses, along with maps of a federal building that pointed out truck bomb barriers, authorities said. He also referenced the 2005 slaying of the mother and husband of Joan Humphries Lefkow, another federal judge in Chicago, they said.

The judges all testified at trial that they felt threatened. Turner took the stand to say his rants were an FBI-sanctioned ruse to “flush out” dangerous members of his audience.

Judge Walter was called to preside of the case after federal trial judges in Chicago were recused. Walter ordered the case moved to Brooklyn, where two previous trials ended in mistrials after juries were deadlocked.

Turner was convicted in an August trial.

Earlier this year, the handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park were rendered unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Courtin the ruling on McDonald v. Chicago. The City Council quickly passed the new ordinance to replace the gun ban, which ordinance limits gun purchases to one per month, bans gun shops in city limits and prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages.