Man gets 5 years' probation in death threats against Whitmer, Nessel

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Posted at 5:46 AM, Oct 06, 2021

(AP) — A Detroit man was given 5 years’ of strict mental health probation for making death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Robert Tesh was sentenced Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court after pleading guilty but mentally ill in August, according to court documents.

As part of his probation, Tesh must continuously receive and participate in mental health treatment, according to the Wayne County prosecutor's office.

Failure to continue treatment, except by agreement with the treating agency and the sentencing court, is grounds for revocation of probation. A psychiatric report also must be filed with his probation officer and the sentencing court every three months during the period of probation.

Tesh also is prohibited from owning, using or possessing an firearms or weapons.

Tesh, 34, was charged last year with false report or threat of terrorism after making the threats via a social media message to an acquaintance in April 2020. Detroit police officers arrested Tesh at his home -- the same day the threats were made.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said authorities concluded the message amounted to “credible threats to kill.” Her office added that the threats were not specific to Whitmer’s stay-at-home order issued in March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Whitmer had been the target of protests and rallies over her executive order which shut down most businesses in the state.

Nessel said Tuesday in a statement to the court at Tesh’s sentencing that she is an elected official, but the impact of the crime “is not different” than if she were not in such a position.

“This is not how it should be,” Nessel wrote. “The deluge of threats that public officials have faced in the last year is unprecedented and unacceptable. No public official should be frightened of doing their job. I have always supported the public’s right to disagree and voice that disagreement, it’s our First Amendment right as Americans. But when that disagreement crosses the line into a politically-motivated threat of violence, it must be prosecuted.”

A judge last month set a March 8 trial for five men accused of planning to kidnap Whitmer.

The government has said the five men were upset over coronavirus restrictions when they conspired to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, even scouting her second home in northern Michigan. They’ve pleaded not guilty and claim to be victims of entrapment.

The five have been in custody for nearly a year.

A sixth man, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty and was recently sentenced to slightly more than six years in prison. He’s expected to be a major witness for the government at trial.