In a recent verdict, an Oahu man named Lindsey Kinney was found guilty by a federal jury of posting threats to kill on Instagram. Following a trial before Chief United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson, Kinney was convicted on two counts of posting these threats. The evidence presented at trial revealed that Kinney had made menacing statements directed at specific individuals, including government officials. The jury’s decision highlights the serious consequences of using social media as a platform for terrorizing individuals within the community. The sentencing for Kinney is scheduled for May 23, 2023, and each count carries a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment.
In a recent jury trial before Chief United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson, Oahu resident Lindsey Kinney, aged 44, was found guilty of two counts of posting threats to kill others on Instagram. The trial focused on Kinney’s actions on the social media platform and the potential dangers they posed to public safety. Following the guilty verdict, Judge Watson ordered Kinney’s continued detention in custody until his sentencing date, which has been set for May 23, 2023.
II. Trial and Verdict
A. Jury Trial
The trial involved a jury, who carefully considered the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The jury was tasked with determining whether Kinney was guilty of the charges brought against him, specifically, two counts of posting threats to kill others on Instagram.
B. Guilty Verdict
After reviewing the evidence, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts. This decision indicates that the jury found sufficient evidence to support the charges, and they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of Kinney’s guilt.
C. Sentencing Date
Kinney’s sentencing has been scheduled for May 23, 2023. At the sentencing hearing, the judge will consider various factors, including the severity of the crimes and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances, to determine an appropriate sentence for Kinney.
III. Evidence Presented at Trial
A. Count 1: Instagram Threats to Cut Off Heads
During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence regarding Kinney’s actions on Instagram. Count 1 focused on threats made by Kinney to cut off the heads of three individuals identified as Victims 1, 2, and 3 in the indictment, along with their social media profiles. Victim 1, a government official, believed that Kinney targeted Victims 1 and 2 due to their recent encounters with another individual. Kinney repeatedly referred to Victim 1’s official title in his threats.
B. Count 2: Instagram Video Threats
The evidence presented at trial also included a 15-minute video recording posted by Kinney on his Instagram account. In the video, Kinney and an unseen person made threats to kill Victim 4 and Victim 5, both government officials, and to injure Victim 4’s security staff. Kinney stated, “we cut their heads off right in the [obscenity omitted] palace, for treason — for treason and human trafficking.” These threatening statements were taken seriously and led to increased security measures for the victims.
IV. Victims and Motive
A. Victim 1: Government Official
Victim 1, a government official, was specifically targeted by Kinney due to his recent encounters with another individual. Kinney’s threats referenced Victim 1’s official title, indicating a personal motive behind the targeting.
B. Victim 2: Wife of Victim 1
Victim 2 is the wife of Victim 1. Kinney’s threats extended to both Victim 1 and Victim 2, likely due to their close relationship and their involvement in the same encounters mentioned in Count 1.
C. Victim 3: Close Friend
Victim 3 is a close friend of Victims 1 and 2. While the exact motive for targeting Victim 3 may not be clear, it is likely that Kinney saw them as connected to the government official and his wife, making them targets as well.
D. Victim 4: Government Official
Kinney’s threats extended to Victim 4, another government official. The motive behind targeting Victim 4 may be related to the overall theme of Kinney’s threats, which included references to treason.
E. Victim 5: Government Official
Victim 5, also a government official, was the final target of Kinney’s threats. The inclusion of Victim 5 in the threats may be linked to the theme of targeting government officials and exposing alleged crimes.
V. Response and Increased Security Measures
A. Victim 4’s Security Staff Vigilance
Following the discovery of the threatening post, Victim 4’s security staff increased their vigilance. They familiarized themselves with Kinney’s appearance and closely monitored anyone approaching Victim 4 to prevent Kinney from getting close.
B. Armed Personnel at Victim 5’s Office
In response to Kinney’s threats, armed personnel were present at Victim 5’s office during working hours. This measure aimed to protect both Victim 5 and the staff in case Kinney attempted to carry out his threats.
VI. Consequences of Social Media Threats
A. Serious Criminal Charges
The guilty verdict demonstrates the serious consequences of posting threats on social media platforms like Instagram. Kinney’s actions were deemed criminal and have resulted in criminal charges being brought against him.
B. Maximum Sentence for Each Conviction
Each of the counts Kinney was found guilty of carries a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment. The final sentence imposed by the judge will take into account various factors, including the severity of the crimes and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
VII. Statement from United States Attorney Clare E. Connors
United States Attorney Clare E. Connors emphasized the significance of the verdict, stating that posting threats to kill specific targets on social media accounts can result in serious criminal consequences. Connors reiterated the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute instances of social media-based criminal terrorization within the community.
VIII. Statement from FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill
FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill highlighted the danger posed by online threats of violence towards government officials, emphasizing that such threats not only jeopardize the personal safety of those targeted but also undermine democracy itself. Merrill urged the public to report any similar activity to the FBI immediately.
IX. Investigation and Prosecution
A. Federal Bureau of Investigation
The investigation into Kinney’s actions on Instagram was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Through their efforts, evidence was gathered, and a case was built against Kinney, leading to his arrest, prosecution, and eventual conviction.
B. Prosecuting Attorney
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan served as the prosecuting attorney in Kinney’s case. Nolan presented the evidence to the jury, argued for Kinney’s guilt, and ultimately secured the guilty verdict on both counts.
X. Contact Information
For further information or assistance, individuals can reach out to the following contacts:
A. Elliot Enoki
Contact: Elliot Enoki Email: Elliot.Enoki@usdoj.gov
B. USAO-HI Honolulu Office
Contact: USAO-HI Honolulu Office Phone: (808) 541-2850
C. Victim Witness Assistance
Contact: Victim Witness Assistance Toll-Free: (888) 310-9018
It is important for the public to have access to these contacts in case they need assistance or wish to provide information regarding similar incidents or threats.
In conclusion, the guilty verdict in the trial of Lindsey Kinney highlights the serious consequences of posting threats on social media platforms. The trial presented evidence of Kinney’s threatening messages, leading to the conviction on two counts. The victims, including government officials and their close associates, have taken additional security measures as a response to the threats. The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI remain committed to investigating and prosecuting such cases, emphasizing the importance of public safety and the preservation of democracy.