Trial in online threat case delayed again

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The trial date has been delayed a second time for a Kalispell man accused of threatening local schools and religious leaders in online rants stretching from December 2014 to February 2015.

David Joseph Lenio, 28, originally had a November trial date pushed to January, but another extension of time has been granted, moving the trial to March 14 in Flathead District Court.

Lenio’s attorney requested the trial delay.

If convicted, Lenio faces up to 10 years in prison for felony intimidation charges after law enforcement arrested and questioned him following a series of Twitter rants found by a gun-control advocate online on Feb. 12, 2015.

One tweet written that day allegedly said: “I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decided to go on a killing spree in a school. Sounds better than a slave wage.”

Two days later, in a long Twitter rant, he allegedly claimed:  “What do you think costs more in most U.S. cities? A gun with enough ammunition to kill 100 school kids or the security deposit on an apartment. ... What would I rather do? Be a #wage slave for the rest of my life or tell society f--- you & do your kids a favor by shooting up a #school?”

His vitriol was also directed at the Jewish community as he allegedly threatened to shoot Jewish rabbis in Kalispell.  

Lenio was arrested Feb. 16 as he returned home from skiing in Whitefish.

Later that day, law officers talked to Lenio’s roommate, who said that he had brought weapons and ammunition to the apartment. Deputies found a 9mm semi-automatic rifle and Russian-made bolt-action rifle in his bedroom, with ammunition in the bedroom and basement. A search of Lenio’s vehicle revealed a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol, more ammunition, marijuana, a pipe and jugs of urine.

Lenio also was originally charged with criminal defamation, but that count was dismissed in September 2015 by Flathead District Judge Heidi Ulbricht, who said that state statute was too broad and some of Lenio’s remarks were constitutionally protected free speech.

Lenio was released in July to his parents’ custody in Michigan. In November the gun rights advocate who spotted his original tweets claimed that Lenio had broken conditions of his release 348 times by issuing more messages from his Twitter account. Lenio was not allowed to access social media as part of his release.

Kalispell Police Chief Roger Nasset said that his office gathered information about some suspected tweets in November.

“We found at least all of the tweets we could find, forwarded them to the county attorney’s office for review,” Nasset said. “We gave them the information to decipher whether further charges have occurred.”

As of Wednesday, there was not a warrant for Lenio to be taken back into custody.

Reporter Megan Strickland can be reached at 758-4459 or 

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