Man convicted of threatening president gets new trialA federal judge has set a new trial for a West Fargo man who already served his entire 19 month prison sentence for threatening then-President George W. Bush in 2007.
By: By Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — A federal judge has set a new trial for a West Fargo man who already served his entire 19 month prison sentence for threatening then-President George W. Bush in 2007.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson threw out Daniel Cvijanovich’s conviction in July and ordered a new trial after ruling that a letter from a key witness should have been available to the defense. Last week, he set a new trial date of Nov. 15, although prosecutors have until Nov. 26 to appeal his decision.
Whatever happens, Cvijanovich, 30, is unlikely to spend more time behind bars. He already completed his sentence and is no longer on supervised release.
His attorney, Ben Thomas, said in a statement that he thought another conviction was unlikely. He noted the jury found Cvijanovich not guilty on two of the three charges in the first trial.
“If the government chooses to go forward with a retrial on the remaining charge, we are confident that Mr. Cvijanovich will again be found not guilty,” Thomas said.
He had no further comment, and prosecutors declined to talk about the case.
Cvijanovich was charged in federal court with three counts of threats against the president, based on allegations he told three prison inmates he wanted to kill Bush. Cvijanovich was serving time then for throwing rocks at a federal building to protest the imprisonment of American Indian activist Leonard Peltier.
A jury found Cvijanovich guilty on one count, in essence saying they believed the testimony of inmate Kyle White. Erickson based his decision to throw out the conviction on a letter White sent his cousin, saying he was willing to lie to avoid more prison time in his own criminal case.
Erickson said the government’s failure to give Thomas the letter from White wasn’t intentional.
“The court is absolutely convinced that had the prosecuting assistant U.S. attorney been aware of White’s activities, he would have provided the information to the defense,” the judge said.
White testified that Cvijanovich told him he wanted to kill Bush so that he’d be famous. After Cvijanovich was convicted, police said a search of his home turned up a gun, disguises and notes and journals in which Cvijanovich described “changing history forever.”
Cvijanovich has maintained his innocence, and Thomas told jurors that his comments to inmates were jokes, lies and exaggerations.
Cvijanovich told The Associated Press that he’s hoping to move on with his life and perhaps attend a law school. He said he’s an alcoholic but hasn’t had a drink in two years. During that time, he married and had two children.
“I’m not lonely anymore. I’m very connected. I have a family now,” he said. “I feel just more comfortable in being normal and being part of normal society.”