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.

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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. reached out to 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."

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 with questions or comments.

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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.

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