A federal magistrate judge on Monday ordered a Tallahassee man accused of plotting to “violently confront” potential protesters at the Florida Capitol this month to be kept in jail until his trial.
In a written ruling, Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank also found probable cause for Daniel Baker’s Jan. 15 arrest, which came amid preparations for the possibility of protests by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The case against Baker hinges largely on a Facebook event Baker created issuing a “call to arms” asking other like-minded people to “encircle and trap” pro-Trump protesters on Jan. 20, the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Investigators say Baker also printed and intended to distribute flyers with the information, accompanied by an image of an AK-47 rifle.
A federal public defender appointed to represent Baker tried during a pretrial hearing last week to convince the judge that Baker’s threats were “hyperbole.” But in Frank’s ruling, he pointed to specificity in Baker’s threats, writing that although there were “political overtones to defendant’s messages, he explicitly included true threats within his diatribe.”
As a result, the judge determined Baker’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment.
In requiring Baker to remain in jail, Frank cited Baker’s access to firearms, his lack of “substantial ties to Tallahassee” and “participation in violent acts in the Middle East.”
Baker, who was given an “other-than-honorable” discharge from the military in 2007, traveled to Iraq and Syria in 2017 to join a militant group called the People’s Protection Units.
Baker owns a pistol and a shotgun, which an FBI agent testified Baker had in his apartment at the time of his arrest, and had recently purchased but not yet retrieved a rifle from a pawn shop.
Baker is charged with transmission, in interstate commerce, of a communication containing a threat to kidnap or to injure. If convicted, he could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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