Grey Gartin//May 31, 2023
Grey Gartin//May 31, 2023
Donald Brown, a former Tucson school teacher who was arrested after threatening the life of Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, is set to be sentenced on June 6 for the July 2022 crime.
After originally pleading not guilty to the charge of making a terroristic threat last year, Brown changed to a guilty plea on April 6. The defendant’s age and lack of prior criminal activity led to a Navajo County Superior Court probation officer, Winifred Lincoln, to recommend a two-year probationary period rather than a prison sentence.
“The defendant is remorseful and intends to cooperate with community supervision. He acknowledges that he took his right to free speech too far,” read the presentence report by Winifred from May 2.
The plea deal changes the original class three felony charge – making a terrorist threat – to a class four felony – attempting to make a terrorist threat – without sentencing agreements. Navajo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Clark can sentence Brown to anywhere from one and a half to three years in prison.
Rogers, through Senate spokeswoman Kim Quintero, said it’s premature to talk about the sentencing and she doesn’t want to unduly influence the judge. Rogers also said her court appointed advocate advised against giving her feelings on the proposed sentence.
Rogers said she is going to read a prepared statement at Brown’s sentencing hearing.
The 59-year-old former Tucson middle school orchestra teacher sent a threatening message on Independence Day 2022 to the business email of a Show Low-area Trump-themed store known as “The Trumped Store.” The merchandise retailer sells MAGA and Trump-branded items and hosts events with prominent Trump-supporting state officials throughout the year for holidays, acting as a sort of social club for supporters of the former president.
In the body of the email sent from a burner account, Brown told store owners that he and a co-conspirator were going to camp nearby the store “with a pair of AR-15s” and threatened to walk into the store and “start shooting,” according to court records. The email also mentioned Rogers by name, expressing a desire to assassinate the state senator for being a traitor – specifically citing her allegiance to Trump.
“He was behind a computer screen threatening me with very colorful, heinous, threatening language,” Rogers said in a radio interview May 11.
The plea agreement outlines that Brown is to pay restitution to both Rogers and the Trumped Store owners, Steve Slaton and Karen McKean, but is not to contact the recipients of the threat.