Judge to decide fate of man accused of making school shooting th - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Judge to decide fate of man accused of making school shooting threats

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MARION, Ill. -- A Williamson County man goes on trial for charges accusing him of posting threats online to shoot up Lincoln Elementary School in Marion. Treston Miller faces three felony counts, one for each of the threats he's accused of posting to the now-defunct website Topix.

"Obviously, when you're threatening to do something as heinous as shoot up a school, that is something we take extremely seriously," Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti said.

Zanotti initially charged Miller with three Class X felonies but downgraded the charges after learning Miller had no weapons or solid plans to follow through on the threats. Detectives told the judge Wednesday about their investigation, which started with a tip from Marion's police chief. There was a problem, though: the first two posts had been deleted before police could get a copy.

"It's extremely difficult for people in law enforcement to get information out of (website owners) and to get it in the proper methods to use it in an evidentiary fashion," Zanotti said.

The trial lasted three hours Wednesday morning and only four people testified. One of those people was the suspect's mother, Amy Miller. She said he never showed violent tendencies and was going through a hard time, dealing with numerous medication changes for mental illness. Miller's lawyer said prosecutors can't prove the first two posts exist. She also argues that even if they could prove he made the third post, it should be treated as disorderly conduct, not the more-serious terrorism charge.

Zanotti admits the crime fits the definition of disorderly conduct, "My argument is it also falls under the higher-level felony."

Ultimately, though, the judge will decide. Judge Brian Lewis said he wants to look at evidence in the case, specifically a police interview with Miller and surveillance video from the Marion Walmart, where prosecutors believe Miller posted at least one of the threats. Judge Lewis said he'll make a ruling March 26.

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