Byczek found guilty in threat case
By Jerry DeRoche
CRYSTAL FALLS—Though it lasted for two days and included 11 witnesses, the trial of Wilson Thompson Byczek basically boiled down to one phrase – “#LasVegas.”
The meaning of what the 38-year-old Alpha man meant by that modern-day Twitter phrase when he uttered it during a phone call to Iron County Sheriff’s Department on Oct. 12, 2017, was the key point of contention in the trial, which took place Aug. 8-9 in Iron County Trial Court.
The prosecution argued that Byczek was referring to the Las Vegas mass shooting that took place just 11 days prior to the phone call because he was upset about not being able to obtain a police report from an incident in which he suffered injuries at Lac O’ Seasons Resort in September 2015. Thus, he was threatening to “commit an act of terrorism.”
The defense countered that Byczek simply meant he was going to Las Vegas on vacation on his way back to the Upper Peninsula from the Spokane, Wash., area where he had been living with his brother and his family for the previous six weeks.
After a bit less than an hour of deliberation, the jury of seven women and five men agreed with the prosecution and found Byczek guilty of making a threat of terrorism (a 20-year felony) and malicious use of a telecommunication services (a six-month misdemeanor). He will be sentenced on Sept. 17.
Even the few words surrounding that phrase were in dispute. Did Byczek say “… it’s going to be #LasVegas?” in an agitated state, as Iron County Sheriff Deputy Adam Schiavo testified? Or did Byczek say either “… right now it’s #LasVegas or “… in the meantime, it’s #LasVegas,” as defense attorney Karl Numinen argued?