from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.
A. Lawyer, State's Attorney, Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff
Russell J. Myhre, Enderlin, ND, for defendant and appellant.
Spencer Norton appeals from a district court's criminal
judgment entered following a jury verdict finding him guilty
of terrorizing. Norton contends the offense of terrorizing
requires threats directed toward identified individuals and
the evidence was insufficient to sustain a verdict of guilty.
In November 2017, Norton was detained in the Burleigh Morton
County Detention Center following Norton being charged with
arson. While detained, Norton communicated with his
girlfriend through phone conversations and video visits.
Norton was aware that both the video visits and the phone
conversations were being recorded by law enforcement.
During the phone conversations and the video visits, Norton
made multiple threatening statements directed toward law
enforcement and other individuals associated with his arson
case. Norton also made threats that referenced the family
members of law enforcement. Norton was charged with
terrorizing as the result of his threats.
Norton filed a motion to dismiss the terrorizing charge,
arguing the State did not meet the burden to show a prima
facie case because the State failed to specifically identify
the individuals who were allegedly threatened. The district
court denied the motion. Norton waived his right to a
preliminary hearing, the case proceeded to a jury trial, and
Norton was found guilty of terrorizing. On appeal, Norton
argues the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to
sustain the guilty verdict, the court erred in denying his
pretrial motion to dismiss, erred in denying his request for
a jury instruction requiring the State to identify the human
being against whom a t h r e a t was made, and erred by
denying his motion to acquit.
Norton challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss. Norton
argues his statements were too general and lack sufficient
specificity for a jury to determine he made the statements
with the intent to place another human being in fear for that
human being's or another's safety.
The offense of terrorizing is defined in N.D.C.C. §
12.1-17-04(1). Section 12.1-17-04(1), N.D.C.C., provides as
A person is guilty of a class C felony if, with intent to
place another human being in fear for that human being's
or another's safety or . . . in reckless disregard of the
risk of causing such terror, disruption, or inconvenience,
the person . . . [t]hreatens to commit any crime of violence
or act dangerous to human life[.]
Norton characterizes his statements as a broad commentary on
law enforcement and asserts his statements lacked the level
of specificity, with regard to the potential target(s) of the
threats necessary for a conviction. Norton directed threats
at the law enforcement personnel involved in his criminal
cases, as well as their families. While many of Norton's
statements did not include the name of the law enforcement
personnel, he made clear references to officers working on
his arson case. Norton stated, "these piece of
[expletive] [expletive] know they ain't got no case. And
they better mark it on their books because when I get out of
this [expletive] jail, I'm coming for all of them."
Norton also stated, "All them [expletive] [expletive]
police that came to the preliminary hearing, sitting there
like a bunch of [expletive], y'all are all flagged and
tagged too." Norton did reference the prosecuting
attorney by name and indicated the prosecutor was
"flagged and tagged." With regard to the families
of law enforcement, Norton stated, "I'm [expletive]
with you and I'm gonna [expletive] ...