Online circuit court records show that Russelle Smith, of Siren, WI, appeared in Washburn County Circuit Court on November 21, 2017, regarding his charges for Class I Felony Make Terrorist Threats at the Spooner High School 2017 graduation.
DrydenWire.com previously reported that Smith was charged after the Spooner Police Department conducted an investigation into several complaints received that Smith had made statements about shooting people at the Spooner High School’s 2017 graduation ceremony. It was reported to the police department that Smith had made statements in front of multiple students. A group of students were discussing video games which contain shooting and Smith stated that they were just giving him ideas for graduation day.
Smith was also charged with Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct. He entered a guilty plea to that charge at his court hearing on November 21, and was ordered to serve 5 days in county jail followed by 1 year of probation for that conviction.
The Court accepted a guilty plea from Smith regarding the charge of Class I Felony Make Terrorist Threats, and also accepted a Deferred Sentence Agreement for that charge, according to online circuit court records. The details of Smith’s Deferred Sentence Agreement were not released to DrydenWire.com.
DrydenWire legal correspondent, area attorney Joseph Schieffer, provided insight into what a Deferred Sentence Agreement can entail for an individual facing a criminal conviction...
"Deferred sentencing agreements, often referred to as DJOCs, are a legal compromise that have evolved between the prosecution and defense. DJOC’s themselves are not specifically recognized statutorily, however, they do operate within the confines of existing statues.
"DJOC cases are similar in nature to a “normal” case that settles short of trial with one exception: the court postpones or defers entering a judgment of conviction. The effect of this practice is that it does not leave many of the areas young offenders with an initial criminal conviction, thus giving the individual the opportunity to pursue endeavors he or she would otherwise have been able to pursue prior to the charges. DJOC’s also serve to protect the public. By entering a plea and agreeing to a DJOC, a defendant will often be placed on probation and be supervised for an agreed upon period of time. If the individual on the DJOC is not amenable or violates supervision, the State can often move to vacate or terminate the DJOC. Once this is done the court will enter a judgment of conviction. At that point, the matter often proceeds to sentencing as if the DJOC did not exist.
"DJOC'S serve as a high-risk, high-reward tool in criminal cases. In the above-referenced situation, the defendant can avoid a felony conviction if he complies with the DJOC. If he were to fail on the DJOC, the public would still have safeguards in place as the State would have already obtained a felony level conviction. Since DJOC’s are not standard, boilerplate language in Wisconsin the above information may not hold true in each case."
Smith was taken into custody on November 21, 2017, to begin serving his jail sentence immediately.
About Attorney Joseph Schieffer: Joseph has formerly prosecuted cases in Barron & Washington counties in Wisconsin. Currently, he is a solo practitioner in Cumberland, Wisconsin specializing in criminal defense and civil litigation in Barron, Washburn, Rusk, Burnett, Sawyer, and surrounding counties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.
Court Finds Probable Cause Against Man Charged with Making Terrorist Threats at Spooner Graduation
Thursday, July 13, 2017 | by Ben Dryden
Russelle Smith, charged with making terrorist threats at the Spooner High School appeared in Washburn County Circuit Court this week for his preliminary examination hearing.
Public record indicates that the Court heard testimony from a Spooner Police Officer regarding the case which alleges that Smith made threats about shooting people at the Spooner High School Graduation.
Probable cause was found by the Court that a Felony had been committed by Smith.
The criminal complaint filed against Smith states that multiple students gave statements to the Spooner Police Department regarding Smith's threats.
A court date of August 28, 2017, has been scheduled for Smith.
Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Preliminary Hearing Set for Man Charged with Making Terrorist Threats at Spooner Graduation
Monday, June 19, 2017 | by Ben Dryden
Russelle Smith, charged in Washburn County with making Terrorist Threats and Disorderly Conduct, recently appeared in Washburn County Circuit Court for his Initial Appearance on his criminal charges. The Court has scheduled a Preliminary Examination hearing.
Smith's charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Spooner Police Department after they received a report that Smith had made statements to multiple other students about shooting people at Spooner High School's 2017 graduation ceremony.
DrydenWire.com reached out to our legal correspondent, area attorney Joseph Schieffer, for some insight regarding Preliminary Examination hearings:
"In Wisconsin, a preliminary examination is a statutorily created right given to defendants alleged to commit a felony level offense. The standard the State needs to meet in such a hearing is “probable cause that a felony was committed, and committed by the defendant. Contrasted with the burden in a normal jury trial (beyond a reasonable doubt) the level of evidence that the State needs to put forward in a preliminary hearing is substantially lower. Adding to this low standard is the fact that the State is allowed to present hearsay evidence. Often times law enforcement officers will testify to statements made by others in a preliminary examination rather than issuing a subpoena for each and every witness.
"While the burden of proof is low, there can be a benefit to having a prelim. Defense attorneys and defendants can use the hearings as “discovery” meaning that they can attempt to learn the extent of the witness’ knowledge or whether or not any constitutional issues can be raised. While every defendant has the right to a preliminary examination, he or she also has the right to “waive” said right and allow the court to base probable cause on the four corners of the criminal complaint.
"Once the parties have rested in a preliminary examination the judge will then decide whether or not the State has met "it’s burden. If so, the defendant will be bound over for trial. The preliminary examination ultimately serves as a check on the State. Being charged with a felony is a serious event and such an examination ensures that the prosecution has the requisite evidence to proceed."
Man Charged with Making Terrorist Threats at Spooner High School
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 | by Ben Dryden
Russelle Smith, 18 years old, has been charged in Washburn County Circuit Court with Class I felony Terrorist Threats and Class B Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct.
According to the criminal complaint, on May 26, 2017, Spooner Police Department received a report that Smith had made statements to multiple other students about shooting people at Spooner High School's 2017 graduation ceremony.
Spooner Police officers were provided with written statements from at least four other students who alleged that for a few days Smith had been making comments about shooting up the Spooner High School graduation.
More than one statement alleged that Smith stated that a movie would be made about the shooting and it would be called “Graduation Day”. The statements further allege that a group of students were discussing video games such as 'Call of Duty' which contain guns and violence and that Smith stated that they were just giving him ideas for graduation day.
Due to Smith having a home address within Burnett County, Spooner Police Officers contacted the Burnett County Sheriff's Office as well to request assistance in locating Smith. The criminal complaint states that Burnett County Sheriff's Investigators made contact with Smith's father who advised that Smith was in Spooner.
Smith was located in the area of the Veterans Park in Spooner, WI by Spooner Police Officers with the assistance of the Washburn County Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin State Patrol and Wisconsin DNR. The criminal complaint states that Smith was at the park with family members.
Smith was taken into custody and interviewed regarding the allegations that he had been making threatening statements about shooting people at the Spooner High School Graduation.
The criminal complaint states that Smith denied all the allegations contained in the written statements provided to Spooner Police Department. Smith reportedly stated to an officer during his interview that he knows he sometimes says things that are taken out of context or that he can't always remember what he says.
If convicted of both charges, Smith could face up to 3 years and 9 months confinement in state prison.