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Charges Dropped after Beheading Joke

19-Dec-2014

Some people have no sense of humor. At least, that is likely the lesson learned by Jacob Muriithi, a man arrested and charged with making a terrorist hoax after he allegedly told a co-worker that he was going to cut off her head.

The "threat" was made during a discussion with a fellow employee at an Oklahoma City nursing home in September. The woman said Muriithi told her that he was a member of ISIS and that ISIS kills Christians, saying, "This is just what we do." The woman says she jokingly asked if he was going to kill her, and he responded that he was going to behead her and post it on Facebook.

The woman went to authorities about the threat, saying Muriithi "was serious when speaking and never made any statements that he was joking or playing around."

Muriithi made the alleged threat on September 13, the same day ISIS released video of the beheading of David Haines. He was arrested September 26, the day after Alton Nolen was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore and returned to behead a co-worker.

Maybe the joke was just ill-timed.

Muriithi was charged with making a terrorist threat and held on $1 million bond. Now, some three months after his ordeal began, the charges against Muriithi have been dropped.

What led to the dismissal of such a serious charge?

First, Muriithi, who became known as an "ISIS sympathizer" in headlines, isn't affiliated with ISIS at all. He's not even Muslim. According to his defense attorney, the man is Catholic.

Next, Muriithi admitted that he said he was going to cut off the woman's head, but said that the two were just joking around. He said he never had any intent to harm her or even to make her believe that he was truly going to harm her. While the accuser said that he threatened to behead her in the presence of a witness, that witness backed up Muriithi's claim that the co-workers appeared to be joking around and that the threat did not seem serious.

Finally, the credibility of the accuser was called into question, and it is this element which eventually led prosecutors to dismiss the charge "in the best interest of justice." Monique Garrett, 34, had an outstanding warrant for her arrest at the time she made the complaint. She has a pending felony case for stealing prescription pain medication while working at another area nursing home. There is some indication that she lodged the complaint against Muriithi in order to deflect her new employer's attention away from her own wrongdoing.

While Muriithi and his family are "extremely happy" that the charge is dismissed, it is unfortunate that a simple joke could cause such turmoil. After the "threat" was reported, an innocent man was fired from his job, arrested, and criminally charged. He was held without bond for more than six weeks, before being released with GPS monitoring. Finally, more than three months after "joking around," the case against the jokester was dismissed.

All for a simple joke.



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