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Charged in Florida Capitol threats case, Daniel Baker's jury trial starts Tuesday

Florida Capitol New Governor
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 18:21:29-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Daniel Baker, the Tallahassee man arrested by the FBI after posting a “call to arms” against right-wing extremists he thought were coming for Florida’s Capitol, will face a jury starting Tuesday.

Attorneys will pick a jury Tuesday morning and the trial will begin that afternoon. At least two days have been set aside for the trial at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida arrested Daniel Baker of Tallahassee for transmission, in interstate commerce, of communication containing a threat to kidnap or to injure on January 15, 2021.

The "transmission" referred to what the authorities say was Baker's Facebook call for people to “rise up” with “every caliber available” against “armed racists” he feared would storm the Capitol on Jan. 20 amid FBI warnings of violence that day at statehouses nationwide.

An arrest affidavit says Baker was under the FBI's watch even before Jan. 6. In October, FBI agents began tracking his social media about attacks on law enforcement according to arrest documents.

The judge found that the state presented sufficient evidence to find probable cause that Baker's comments could be perceived as threats.

"... [Baker] refers to his intended targets as 'trump terrorists,' and a reasonable person could understand that to mean that any supporter of former President Trump would be targeted for violence and kidnapping," Judge Frank wrote in the order. "A defendant cannot escape liability merely by employing code words in his threats."

The judge also said an FBI special agent also testified that Baker admitted that he posted his messages online "to scare people."

Attorneys for Baker alleged his comments weren't "true threats," which are defined as statements that a reasonable person would perceive as a threat, and instead contended he was exercising "hyperbolic speech protected by the First Amendment."

Baker was originally scheduled to stand trial in Tallahassee’s federal court on April 14.

The case will be tried at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Kunz and Lazaro Fields are prosecuting this case. Randy Murrell and Elizabeth Vallejo will represent Baker. Judge Charles A. Stampelos.