Jury Finds Oahu Man Guilty of Posting Instagram Threats to Kill
News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii, Wednesday, February 8, 2023
HONOLULU – After a jury trial before Chief United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson, a federal jury today found Oahu resident Lindsey Kinney (age 44) guilty of two counts of posting threats to kill others on Instagram. Judge Watson ordered the defendant’s continued detention in custody pending his sentencing, which is set for May 23, 2023.
At trial, the evidence as to Count 1 showed that in January 2022, defendant posted on his Instagram account threats to cut off the heads of persons identified as Victims 1, 2, and 3 in the indictment and their social media profiles. Victim 1 believed defendant threatened Victims 1 and 2 because Victim 1, acting in his official capacity as a government official, had recently been involved in two encounters with another individual, and the defendant repeatedly referred to Victim 1’s official title. Victim 2 is the wife of Victim 1, and Victim 3 is a close friend of them both.
According to the evidence presented at trial as to Count 2, in March 2022, defendant publicly posted on his Instagram account a 15-minute videorecording in which he and a second unseen person made threats to kill Victim 4 and Victim 5, both government officials, and to injure Victim 4’s security staff, including stating, “we cut their heads off right in the [obscenity omitted] palace, for treason -- for treason and human trafficking.” After learning of the threatening post, Victim 4’s security staff increased its vigilance, familiarizing themselves with defendant’s appearance and scrutinizing those who approached Victim 4 to ensure that defendant did not get close to Victim 4. Similarly, in response to defendant’s post and until the arrest operation began, armed personnel were present at Victim 5’s office during working hours to protect Victim 5 and his staff should defendant appear.
“As confirmed by this verdict, posting threats to kill specific targets on social media accounts like Instagram may have serious criminal consequences,” said United States Attorney Clare E. Connors. “The use of social media to criminally terrorize members of our community will be investigated and prosecuted by our office.”
“Online threats of violence towards our government officials are not only a danger to their personal safety but also to our democracy,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “Today’s verdict serves as a reminder of just how serious this crime is. The FBI encourages anyone who may have knowledge of similar activity to report it immediately.”
The charges on which the defendant was convicted each carry a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that resulted in this conviction. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan is prosecuting the case.
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