Man charged in online posting; lawyer cites First Amendment

By John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel

A West Allis man charged in federal court with posting a message on Craigslist threatening to bring a gun to Mayfair mall and putting it to someone’s head is arguing that his actions are protected under the First Amendment.

Michael Musgrove, 40, a student at Milwaukee Area Technical College, posted a message on Jan. 14 on the website titled, “Mayfair mall gonna make da news dis weekend again (da hood),” according to court documents.

Musgrove opened his post addressing “snitches” and “crakas,” and later wrote, “you ain’t tougher than my 9 which I’ll be bringin dis sat glock glock (expletive) . . .  when I put that glock upside yo head you aint gonna do (expletive) . . .  cept beg for yo life . . . ”

The picture of a black semiautomatic Glock handgun was included in the posting.

“Not surprisingly, Musgrove’s post caused unease amongst some who viewed it,” his attorney, public defender Daniel Stiller, wrote in a motion to dismiss the case.

The father of a teenager who works at Mayfair read the message and worried for his daughter’s safety. He reported it to Wauwatosa police, along with others. Detectives found Musgrove through a subpoena to Craigslist.

The message was posted in the weeks after an incident in which a large number of juveniles moved through the shopping center, rattling customers and forcing the early closure of the mall.

Musgrove told police he wrote the message on a laptop in his basement because he wanted to “get people riled up.” He said he did not own a gun and did not intend to go to Mayfair.

Musgrove has been indicted on a one count of communicating a threat to injure someone. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison. He was released on $500 bond.

Stiller argued that his client’s posting was foolish but protected under the U.S. Constitution. Stiller writes that Musgrove did not threaten to shoot anyone, just put a gun up to the head of someone only identified by the initials of “ufc.” Stiller wrote it was unclear who was being threatened.

“Musgrove’s foolish post does not threaten to bomb Mayfair mall or to otherwise target a place . . . ,” Stiller writes. “To the contrary, Musgrove’s alleged post states nothing more than an intention of pointing a gun at one particular, if possibly fictitious and probably unrecognizable, person.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica O’Neil counters that Musgrove’s post is a threat

She said it was up to the jury to decide if it was a threat and, if so, who was threatened.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph has not ruled in Stiller’s motion to dismiss.