TOPEKA, Kan. — A federal jury has convicted a Kansas man who insisted his death threat against U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner was a message from God, amid a spike in threats against members of Congress and of their families.
Jurors found Chase Neal, 32, of Lawrence, guilty of a single count of threatening a US government official. The presiding judge instructed the jury that in order to convict Neal, they had to find that a reasonable person would find that he had made a true threat and intended either to acquaint Latourneur or to interfere with his work as a Republican congressman representing the eastern Kansas.
Neill acted as his own attorney and examined LaTurner on the witness stand Wednesday. Neill testified Thursday that he was a messenger from God and delivered a message from God threatening LaTurner for ignoring concerns about witchcraft, wizards, aliens and a war for the souls of men.
Federal prosecutors said Neal corroborated LaTurner before leaving an after-hours voicemail on June 5 at the congressman’s Topeka office that included: “I’m going to kill you.” LaTurner testified that he was concerned for the safety of his family and staff and increased security at his home and Topeka office.
Neal admitted in court that he left the June 5 voicemail and others with more death threats the next day. But he said he carried a message from God that LaTurner and other officials faced death by an act of God, such as a tornado or hurricane, for attacking God’s creation.
“I’m not saying, ‘I’m going to chase you out with a knife’ or anything like that,” Neal said in his closing remarks.
His mother, fighting back tears, told reporters as she left the courtroom: “He never raised a hand to anybody.”
Threats against members of Congress have increased since the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol. In October, an intruder savagely beat the husband of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer in their San Francisco home.