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updated: 12/12/2013 1:51 PM

Man accused of threatening Wheaton state rep wants charges dropped

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  • Stephen Bona

      Stephen Bona

 
 

A man charged with threatening a state representative from Wheaton for her radio show comments disparaging gay marriage is attempting to have the charges dismissed, claiming his perceived threats are constitutionally protected free speech.

Stephen Bona, 50, of Chicago was charged March 22, hours after Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives reported getting a threatening voice mail at her district office.

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"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," the caller said on the voice mail, a recording of which Ives provided to the Daily Herald at that time.

The caller went on to say "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)."

Bona is accused of leaving the message following Ives' February appearance on a Catholic Conference of Illinois radio show. There, she said same-sex marriages are "disordered" and couples are trying to "weasel their way into acceptability."

Bona's attorney, Joanie Rae Wimmer argued during a Wednesday hearing before DuPage Judge Blanche Hill Fawell that the case should be dismissed because Bona did not specifically threaten Ives.

"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."

Assistant State's Attorney Jim Scaliatine argued that the fact that Bona left the message "on a machine, directly to (Ives)" removes the protections of the First Amendment.

"This is clearly a threat," he said.

Fawell will rule on the motion to dismiss at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20.

If the case continues to trial, Bona faces up to five year in prison for threatening a public official.

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