Hatewatch

Second Hal Turner Trial Ends in Mistrial

The federal trial of hate blogger Hal Turner ended in a mistrial late this afternoon — for the second time.

After deliberating for three days in Brooklyn’s U.S. District Court, jurors decided they would not be able to reach a verdict, according to The Associated Press. Judge Donald Walter declared a mistrial and scheduled a third trial for April 12. Turner’s first trial in December also resulted in a deadlocked jury. An Internet radio host from New Jersey, Turner was charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog in June that they “deserve to be killed” because they had upheld a local handgun ban.

As during the first trial, the proceedings this month focused on whether Turner’s blog entries constituted a criminal threat or merely heated rhetoric that’s protected under the First Amendment. However, the second trial differed from the first in key ways, according to news accounts. This time, for instance, the judges that Turner targeted on his blog testified. In addition, Turner took the stand to describe his past work as a confidential FBI informant, claiming that the agency had encouraged his online vitriol to give him credibility with the extremists the FBI was trying to apprehend. Turner, whose FBI code name was Valhalla, said the agency paid him more than $100,000 during the four years he worked intermittently as an informant. He also insisted he was not a white supremacist.

If convicted, Turner faces up to 10 years in prison.