WHEATON - Gay marriage activist Stephen Bona says the messages he left on State Rep. Jeanne Ives' (photo right) voice mail this past March weren't really threats, and believes the charges against him should be dropped. The first voice mail Ives reported to Wheaton Police said:
Your Tea Party brethren Sarah Palin put up a map that included the names, locations, and faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the cross hairs of a gun...perhaps we should do the same for you. We know where you live. There's no longer a ban on assault weapons. Think about that before you speak next time, (expletive).
Later, Bona left a second similar voice mail. Following that DuPage County authorities increased the charges against him to a Class 3 felony, which, if found guilty, could put Bona in a state prison for five years.
The Daily Herald reports that Bona's attorney, Joanie Rae Wimmer (photo right), argued in court Wednesday that her client didn't specifically threaten Ives.
Wimmer, whose website says her law office is "dedicated to helping people who have been harmed by their employer, the government, or representatives of the government, such as police officers and other public officials," said Bonas' comments were protected by the First Amendment.
"The law is pretty clear that you only get outside the realm of constitutionally protected speech if you mean to convey an intent on your part to do harm to someone else," Wimmer said. "I don't believe that he did that. There are a number of cases where a speaker suggests to the listener that violence could befall them if they continue their course of action."
Wimmer's dismissal plea will be ruled upon December 20 at the DuPage County Court House.