Prosecutors, defense attorneys and Judge Heidi Ulbricht worked Thursday to hammer out the final details of an upcoming trial for a former Kalispell man accused of threatening schoolchildren and religious leaders in online rants last year.
The trial of David Joseph Lenio, 28, was tentatively set to begin during the March 14 trial term, but Flathead District Attorney Ed Corrigan said a principal witness in the case had been subpoenaed in a federal case in Oregon that week. It is likely the prosecution will request a continuance, Corrigan said.
The trial is expected to last five days. Another date that would have worked for that witness did not work for defense counsel.
“This case has been challenging logistically because so many witnesses are in Oregon,” defense attorney Brent Getty said.
In addition to working out the details of the trial schedule, Judge Ulbricht said she would file an order for Lenio to submit proof to her that he has undergone a psychological evaluation. The evaluation was required as part of Lenio’s conditional release from jail in July 2015. He was released to live with family in Michigan.
“I have not received that that has occurred,” Ulbricht said.
Getty said he had some insight about the status of the evaluation, but said he would rather file it under seal.
Ulbricht hoped the matter could get scheduled soon.
“The court is anxious to get this matter off its docket,” Ulbricht said. “It’s been continued three or four times.”
A man who was working as a spokesman for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence first contacted authorities in Oregon after he noticed Lenio allegedly spewing hateful messages over Twitter in mid-February 2015. Lenio’s alleged Twitter handle listed his location as “Cascadia,” not only a slang term used by some white supremacists to refer to a desired homeland in the Pacific Northwest but also the name of a tiny community in Oregon.
The investigation started in Oregon, but a collaborative investigation by federal and local authorities led to Kalispell, where Lenio was staying.
Prosecutors claim Lenio went on several Twitter tirades between December 2014 and February 2015.
Among the tweets prosecutors have flagged as inappropriate include one where he allegedly threatened to shoot up Kalispell schools and “score 30+.”
He allegedly tweeted on Feb. 12, 2015: “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?” Sounds better than being a wage slave.”
He also allegedly wrote about killing local leaders in the Jewish community.
Lenio was arrested Feb. 16, 2015, as he was on his way home from skiing in Whitefish.
His roommate told police he had brought guns and ammunition to the house the night before.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers found a 9-mm semi-automatic rifle and a Russian-made bolt-action rifle at Lenio’s residence. His vehicle contained a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol and more ammunition. Marijuana and jugs of urine also were found in the vehicle.
An analysis by the Montana Forensic Science Division determined one of the guns did not work.
Reporter Megan Strickland can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.