Criminal Justice

Charged under federal cyberstalking law, relatives of courthouse shooter call case unconstitutional


Relatives of a Delaware courthouse shooter could get as much as life in prison if they are convicted in an unusual federal cyberstalking case that has been brought against them.

But the case shouldn’t proceed because the cyberstalking law is unconstitutional, the three defendants are arguing, the News Journal reports. None pulled the trigger or were even present at a Feb. 11, 2013 shooting at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, where Christine Belford and a friend were shot to death by Thomas Matusiewicz as they headed to a court child-support hearing.

Thomas Matusiewicz killed himself at the scene. His wife, Lenore Matusiewicz, his son David Matusiewicz, and his daughter, Amy Gonzalez are all charged with conspiracy, interstate stalking and cyberstalking resulting in death concerning their alleged roles in encouraging the slaying of Belford, the ex-wife of David Matusiewicz.

A lawyer for Gonzalez, whose claimed involvement is largely or entirely restricted to electronic communications, calls the case against her a violation of her First Amendment right to express her opinions, the newspaper reports.

Counsel for David Matusiewicz and his mother say the law is unconstitutional because it allows a judge, rather than a jury, to decide if so-called enhancements exist that allow a potential life sentence for the crime if the defendant is convicted.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “3 relatives of courthouse shooter indicted, feds say cyberstalking resulted in death of victim”

ABAJournal.com: “Son of courthouse shooter is held without bail after ‘unique’ cyberstalking indictment”

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